Thursday, April 2, 2009

Understand the spirit and consensus of the nation’s founding fathers

It is a very complicated kind of situation existing appears at the moment and new issues are still appearing, making the situation more complicated. It is wise to revisit our Constitution and understand the spirit of Social Contract.

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.

The Reid Commission’s draft proposals were published in 1957 and were then reviewed and amended by a working committee in Malaya, and representatives of the Alliance, the Malay rulers, and the British government at a meeting in London. This is the so called the Merdeka Constitution.

Yang DiPertuan Agong was given the responsibility for safeguarding the “special position of the Malays” and the “legitimate interests of other communities”. Before the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, another consultative process was initiated with North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak in 1962.

From this process came forth a social contract (contained in the Cobbold Commission Report) similar to the consensus acquired in 1956-57. The core of the contract as stated in the memorandum submitted by the Alliance was that Islam was to be the State religion, but the “observance of this principle shall not impose any disability on non-Muslim nationals professing and practicing their own religions and shall not imply that the State is not a secular state”.

The Merdeka Constitution (MC) provisions evidently provided the framework for the 1963 Federal Constitution.

The latter continued to cover the provisions of special rights and privileges of the Malays, national language, and religion without depriving “any person of any right and privilege, permit or license accrued to or enjoyed or held by him” (Article 153). It also included “several other issues which were matters of contention between the Malays and Chinese”

By far, the Constitution, formulated in 1957 and 1963 through consultation and consensus of the nation’s founding fathers, is based on the social contract on which the country is founded.

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