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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 ― Former minister Tan Sri Rais Yatim appears to have changed his view on “ketuanan Melayu” or Malay supremacy, tweeting today that the concept he had long championed “has no place” in Malaysia’s constitution.
Instead, the former Umno leader who joined Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) just a few months ago, dismissed “ketuanan Melayu” as a mere political cry, seemingly in defence of his party Youth wing chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who came under fire from the Malay right wing who perceived his recent remarks on the subject as an abandonment of the community’s interests.
“Malay Supremacy has no place in the Constitution except for the rights of the Rulers according to law and the special rights of Malays and Sabah and Sarawak Bumiputera and the lawful rights of other communities under Article 153. Article 8 gives fair legal treatment to all citizens. Malay Supremacy is only a political cry,” Rais posted on his Twitter account early this morning.
Article 8 of the Federal Constitution states that all Malaysians are equal before the law, but also provides for certain exemptions that are also very clearly expressed within its subsections and other constitutional provisions.
Article 153, which many Malay rights activists have been citing as supportive of their “special rights”, actually addresses Malaysia’s “quota” system favouring Malays, which is not across the board as widely believed but is limited to matters concerning services, permits and such.
It also clearly protects not just the rights of Malays as the sole demographic group in multicultural Malaysia but also the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.
Ketuanan Melayu tiada dalam Perlembagaan kecuali hak Di Raja di sisi Undang2 dan hak2 istimewa Melayu dan Bumiputra Sabah Swak dan hak2 sah komuniti lain di bawah Per153.Per 8 memberi layanan kesaksamaan perundangan kpd semua warga.Ketuanan Melayu hanya dalam laungan politik— RAISYATIM (@DrRaisYatim) October 31, 2018
The first subsection of Article 153 states that “It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article”.
Rais’s remark on this hot potato subject follows objection from certain Malay interest groups against the Pakatan Harapan government’s planned ratification of the United Nation’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
The new government has had to repeatedly assure its critics that the Malay special position will not end with just a stroke of the pen.
Before his departure from Umno, Rais was known to have issued strongly-worded statements critical of Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese and Indian communities in his defence of Malay rights and privileges that were seen to have fanned racial tensions.
Though there have been no bloody racial riots equal to the violence of the May 13, 1969 chaos, interracial ties have continued to simmer and periodically bubble to the surface when Malay rights are perceived to be under threat.