‘Affirmative action for Malays dangerous’

Malays are the only race in the world with both political power and affirmative action, a human rights organisation noted at a forum here.

Anisah Shukry, FMT

Affirmative action for the Malays is dangerous as they are the majority group in Malaysia and already hold political power, a human rights organisation said last night.

Jerald Joseph, the executive director of Dignity International, pointed out that Malaysia was the only country which implemented affirmative action for a majority group.

“Malays in this country are the majority; they have political power. So with affirmative action, you actually double Malay power,” said Joseph at the forum ‘Multiculturalism Rhetorics: A breeding ground for racism?’

As a result of this, he said, affirmative action provided discounts and aids for even the wealthy Malay at the expense of the truly needy, who comprised all races.

“The slogan ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ is truly rhetoric; Malaysians cannot even find common ground in Malaysia, nor demand similar rights and services,” said Joseph.

“Article 153 of the Federal Constitution should be dismantled, so that only those who truly need special privileges can access it.”

He was referring to a provision in the Federal Constitution which grants the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia responsibility for safeguarding the special position of Malays and natives of any of the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Article 153 specifies ways to do this, such as establishing quotas for entry into the civil service, public scholarships and public education.

But Joseph noted that the government was likely to drag its legs when it came to amending provisions that he said were related to human rights.

“It’s ironic that the government has no problems changing the constitution when it suits their interests.

“But when its related to human rights, then they talk about the sanctity of the constitution.

“But the Malaysian constitution belongs to all of us Malaysians. So no one should stop us from discussing it,” said Joseph.

‘Trying to turn everyone into Malays’

Co-panelist Mutuma Rutere, the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, appeared to agree with Joseph’s views on affirmative action.

“The government should not allocate resources based on ethnic group, but instead they could perhaps distribute it based on the place of residence.

“Instead of fighting for the rights of our own group, we should be fighting for the rights of everyone,” Rutere stressed.

Also present at the forum was Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, the director of the Islamic Renaissance Front, who highlighted the government’s attempts to promote “the Malay supremacy agenda.”