Malay Supremacy versus Malay Sovereignty

Khoo Kay Peng

It is more appropriate for ‘Malay supremacy’ to be rephrased as ‘Malay sovereignty’ as the latter encompasses the position of the Malay rulers and their subjects and not just the purported master-slave relationship said the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.

Sultan Ibrahim said that when the British gave independence to this country, they returned Malaya to the owners – the Malay rulers and their subjects.

He said this was because prior to the arrival of the British and the advent of the other races, the Malay states were owned by the Malay rulers and their subjects.

“Even before the Malay states were made a federation, the Malay rulers and their subjects have accepted outsiders as guests and given them the opportunity to earn a living and develop Malaya together.

“When the states became a federation, the rights of the other races were respected and safeguarded by the Federal Constitution,” he said.

The rights of all Malaysians should not only be respected and safeguarded but they should regarded as equals without any prejudice.

It is important to note that a new nation was established after Malaya was granted its independence from the British colonial power in 1957 and when a nationhood, Malaysia, was created in 1963. Malaya was not returned to only to the Malay rulers and their subjects but to the people who had inhabited both Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak prior to independence.

The new nation was given a new form of governance based on parliamentary democracy. A federal constitution was drafted and adopted to recognize the formation of a federation, a modern nationhood and to formalize a legal status, citizenship, for all races who had pledged their loyalty to Malaysia.

Any politicians, individuals or persons who refused to accept the spirit of Malaysia’s nationhood and the equal rights of all Malaysians accorded in the federal constitutions are the real traitors.

Within the federal constitution, the role of constitutional rulers, the status of Bahasa Malaysia and Islam as an official language and religion of the federation are undisputed. But the constitution is silence on the notion of Malay supremacy. There is no such thing as race supremacy in the constitution.

It is unfortunate that the current government which has ruled Malaysia since independence has refused to accept the original spirit of the constitution. The ruling regime has allowed its members and leaders to continue to misguide and misinterpret the constitution to create an imaginary two-tier citizenship.

The divisive categorisation of Malaysians into either non-Bumiputera or Bumiputera is politically motivated. As a result, Malaysia’s social division has become more pronounced compared to the past. It is unfortunate that Malaysia’s political development is lagging far behind its economic development. Racial politics and the divisive categorisation of Malaysians according to their skin colour is outdated and outmoded.

Any attempt to insist that the Malay is a far more superior race compared to others is going to jeopardize nation building.