Pakatan MPs claim Umno, Perkasa twisting Article 153

(The Malaysian Insider) – The constitutional provision outlining the special position of Bumiputeras has been manipulated by Umno and is now being used as a weapon of aggression, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers claimed today amid growing debate on the subject.

On Saturday, National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) chairman Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng said Article 153 of the Federal Constitution is akin to “bullying” if it only protects the rights of one group.

Today, several PR lawmakers suggested that Article 153 was being intentionally conflated with the concept of “ketuanan Melayu”, or Malay supremacy.

“Reverend Eu mentioned it should be inclusive and I think it did try to cover it (inclusiveness),” PAS Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad said today. “Fundamentally it is inclusive but has been manipulated and it is not about protection anymore but aggression.”

Eu’s remark sparked protest from Malay rights group Perkasa and drew a denial today from Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin that the provision had been used to bully any community.

On Sunday, Perkasa claimed the provision kept the country peaceful, further claiming that the race riots of May 13, 1969 happened because it was not implemented properly.

“This country is peaceful because of Article 153 which protects the rights of Bumiputeras who are the majority in this country.

“The reverend needs to remember that Christians are able to practise their religion without worry in this country because of Article 153,” Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hasan Syed Ali had said last week.

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.”

Constitutional expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari also chimed in on Sunday to say this meant “the King must also make sure that (safeguarding Bumiputeras) must not be done at the expense of the legitimate interests of other communities.”

Today, Khalid echoed the view and similarly noted the inclusion of the phrase “other communities.”