Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Social contract for racial harmony and national stability

All Malaysian especially politicians should try to use great sensitivity to the feelings of the multi-racial Faith-Based Initiative in the Malaysian Constitution for the prosperity and stability of the country.

Ironically, Malaysian politics has been relatively stable and people should appreciate it. Due to the sensitivity involved in race relation, ground rules are set in the Federal and state Constitutions.

Should the people questioning the social contract especially the Malay rights, they should study the history of the formation of Malaysia.

A social contract is the contract entered into by the founding fathers of the nation between the Malays and non-Malays before independence.

Ironically, the unique situation in Malaysia should not be compared to other countries and questioning the social contract entered into by the founding fathers of the nation could have negative repercussions and lead to disharmony.

Attempts to question the social contract will certainly lead to social and economic upheaval. It has served us well in the 51 years Malaysia has been an independent nation, so there is no reason to keep questioning it.

The racial harmony and national stability clearly evident in Malaysia all the while was because of the understanding and respect the people had for each other.

The social contract in Malaysia refers to the agreement made by the country's founding fathers in the Constitution. The social contract usually refers to a quid pro quo trade-off through Articles 14–18 of the Constitution, pertaining to the granting of citizenship to the non-Malay people of Malaysia, and Article 153, which grants the Malays special rights and privileges.

In 1956, a Constitutional Commission headed by Lord Reid was responsible for drafting the constitution for an independent Malaya. UMNO, the leading partner of the UMNO-MCA-MIC Alliance, agreed a ‘common nationality for the whole of the Federation’ that allow “all persons (in Malaya) to qualify as citizen either by birth or by fulfilling requirements of residence and language and by taking oath of loyalty”.

MCA acknowledged that the special rights of the Malays should be protected, and UMNO in return conceded that Chinese and other non-Malays should be granted easier citizenship rights based on the principle of jus soli (by birth). The Chinese were also allowed to continue to play a dominant role in economy.

The leaders of the three communal parties agreed to first resolve differences and to speak with one voice to the commission. This was the origin of the social contract between the UMNO and the MCA leaders.

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