DAP declaration lacks oomph

The document unveiled last Sunday in Shah Alam was long on generalities and short on specifics.

(Free Malaysia Today) – There is a need for specifics in DAP’s 28-point Shah Alam Declaration, which was unveiled last Sunday in the Selangor capital amidst much fanfare.

Generally, such declarations by their very nature are left hanging, tend to be vague and are much given to sweeping generalisations, often raising more questions than providing answers.

Corruption is mentioned in three of the points, the first time linked with the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission (MACC), the second with the rule of law and another time with lifestyles which cannot be explained. One would have thought that the party would have enough strategists to draft the 28 points in English to strike a coherent stance and not produce a Chinglish translation of the Chinese original.

At the very outset, the declaration should have clearly stated that the Federal Constitution is the only social contract in Malaysia, that is, between the state and the people. It cannot be claimed that there is any other social contract, written or unwritten, existing in defiance of the Federal Constitution.

And it is a mistake to mention the term “Bumiputera” in one of the points. It is not mentioned anywhere in the Federal Constitution. It is an administrative term that should be avoided like the plague, like they do in Malaysian Borneo. The only exception is among the illegal immigrants in Sabah, who have set up taxi drivers’ and mini bus owners’ associations and the like with the word “Bumiputera” incorporated in the names.

The Natives of Sabah and Sarawak, like the Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia, detest the term. They see it as an umbrella label to give backdoor native status to any Tom, Dick and Harry in Peninsular Malaysia who fall within the “Malay” definition in the Federal Constitution and to illegal immigrants in Sabah.

The Malay-speaking communities are not recognised in the Sabah state constitution as being among the native groups and they are subject to immigration restrictions.

Furthermore, the Federal Constitution does not recognise the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia as natives of that finger of land jutting out from mainland Southeast Asia. It merely notes the advent of Malay nationalism by defining the term “Malay”.

In that sense, a glaring omission in the DAP declaration is a pledge to weed out the politicisation of the history of Malaysia and the attendant distortions.

In discussing Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, the declaration should not have focused only on preserving the special position of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, the Orang Asli and the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia.

The special position has never been in any danger, except when it comes to the Orang Asli and the Sabah and Sarawak natives.