Bewilderment greets Perak Sultan’s ‘Malay interests’ remarks

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid, The Malaysian Insider

By equating any questioning of Malay interests and scholarship quotas to the sovereignty of the rulers, Perak’s Sultan Azlan Shah has been met with incredulous response.

Shah Alam parliamenterian Khalid Samad, who is from PAS, believes no one is questioning the rights of the Malays in terms of their places in educational institutions nor was there any move to question their rights to scholarship.

“What is being questioned is the manner in which the scholarship system is being implemented,” Khalid told The Malaysian Insider, saying that the scholarship awarding system must be based on the principles of justice and equitability.

“Although the constitution gives special rights to the Malays and Bumiputras in terms of place of study, it is in no way drafted to deny equal rights be given to the non-Malays.

“The basic idea of this provision is to ensure social justice, not made to serve or justify a chauvinistic end,” he said.

Sultan Azlan said today any move which questions the interests of the Malays and Bumiputras in terms of scholarships and places of study not only violates the fundamental provisions in the federal and state constitutions but also questions the sovereignty of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers.

It is believed that the Perak ruler’s statement was made in reference to the recent call made by the DAP to stop ethnic profiling when awarding scholarships.

Bar Council president K Ragunath when contacted for comments said he doesn’t see how the call for better education opportunities to be awarded to deserving non-Malay students violates the country’s constitutions.

“I think this is a question of interpretation. I don’t think there is a move to question the rights of the Malays to education but a just demand that non-Malays who are doing well in their studies should be allowed the same opportunities,” he said.

Ragunath argued that the country’s broken scholarship system has already damaged the country’s economy with more and more good students pursuing education and employment opportunities overseas due to the lack of chances back home.

“So the whole matter is not about questioning the sovereignty of the Malay rulers or the Agong, it’s just a call for justice to be served,” he added.

The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang when contacted said he would only give his comments soon saying he has yet to read what the Perak ruler had said.

But he said that if the prime minister wants to fulfil his 1 Malaysia promise, then he must move away from ethnic profiling, especially in awarding scholarships.

Lim also pointed out that Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s plan to limit the number of SPM subjects taken by each student was only an “ad hoc solution” and does not go to the root cause of the problem.

“Even if you reduce the number of papers, it would not solve the problem unless there is a fair and transparent system. I think there is a need for a total revamp,” he said.