LAWYERS for Liberty (LFL) has lambasted Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal for urging Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to amend the Federal Constitution to make the position of premier exclusive for Malay Muslims.
LFL director Zaid Malek said it is unthinkable and outrageous for an elected MP to suggests introducing something akin to apartheid by attempting to legalise racism into the highest law of the nation.
“And let’s not split hairs, this proposal is textbook racism. Any such amendment would be struck down by the courts eventually, as legislating racism into the Constitution would offend its basic structure; the Federal court in recent decisions has recognised the ‘basic structure doctrine’.
“This means that the Constitution cannot be twisted and mutilated to such an extent that it no longer carries the values of democracy and equality that was built into it at Merdeka,” Zaid said in a statement today (Dec 15).
According to Zaid, any such amendment would also be in conflict with Article 8 of the Constitution, which enshrines the principle of equality before the law; introducing such a racist and divisive amendment into the Constitution would ultimately destroy the meaning of the Constitution and the principles it upholds.
Zaid also added that the fearmongering often stoked by Wan Fayhsal and his fellow Perikatan Nasional (PN) leaders has no basis in law.
“The position of the Malays and Islam cannot be so easily altered as it requires the consent of the council of rulers to do so as required article 159 of the Federal Constitution,” he noted.
“This measure of protection is already enough to dismiss the baseless fears conjured up by Wan Ahmad Fayhsal.”
Under the Federal Constitution, the only requirement for someone to be PM, as per Article 43(2)(a), is that the PM be an MP, who, in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s judgement, has majority support.
Meanwhile, Article 160 defines a Malay as a person who professes the religion of Islam, habitually speaks the Malay language and conforms to Malay customs.
This definition does not cover Orang Asli or natives of Sabah and Sarawak.
“Even though race is not mentioned, by convention the PM has come from the majority race and the constitution thus allows flexibility and pragmatism,” Zaid further remarked.
“Tampering with the Constitution now is dangerous, reckless and unnecessary. Limiting the role of PM along racial and religious lines may fracture the fine balancing achieved by our constitution as it exists.”
Zaid went on to urge Anwar and the unity government to immediately reject the abhorrent suggestion by the Machang MP and condemn it unequivocally.
In a speech to Malaysian students in the UK last month, DAP stalwart Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang had expressed hope that Malaysia would not have to wait as long as the US to have a leader from an ethnic minority.
He was referring to former US president Barack Obama, who was elected to the White House some 230 years after independence.
This had led to public outcry from both sides of the political divide and numerous political leaders had since weighed in on the matter. – Dec 15, 2023