Legal Expert Says Nothing to Stop a Non-Muslim from Becoming PM

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Shad Saleem Faruqi questions those who are uneasy with the recent appointments of non-Malays and non-Muslims to senior government posts.

  • Call for Malaysians to be ready to embrace equality
  • PM, CM or MB posts open to non-Malays, never reserved in the Constitution for a certain race, religion, gender
  • Constitution already has safeguards to protect Malays and Bumiputera from being “displaced”
  • Criticism over appointments of A-G, Finance Minister, Chief Justice unjustified

A legal expert says there is no basis for the criticism over the appointment of non-Muslims to senior government posts, adding that Malaysians must be ready to embrace equality, including accepting a non-Malay as prime minister.

“It is entirely possible that at some point in time we will see a Sarawakian, Sabahan or a non-Malay being catapulted as prime minister,” Universiti Malaya law professor Shad Saleem Faruqi told a forum on race and religion last night.

“All he or she will need is the confidence of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat,” he said, adding that such posts were never reserved in the Federal Constitution for a certain race, religion or gender.

He said even the post of chief minister or menteri besar was open to non-Malays, adding that the current practice in some states of ensuring a Malay for the post was due to demographic realities.

“But bear in mind, conventions are not law,” he added.

Shad said the Federal Constitution already has safeguards when it comes to protecting Malays and the Bumiputera from being “displaced”, as claimed by some quarters.

He said criticism over the appointments of the attorney-general, the finance minister and the chief justice was unjustified.

“There is absolutely no place for race and religion in issues like this,” he said, referring to the appointment of Lim Guan Eng as finance minister, Tommy Thomas as attorney-general and Richard Malanjum as the chief justice.

Thomas is the first non-Malay to hold the AG’s post in more than five decades, while Malanjum is the first non-Muslim and East Malaysian to be appointed to the top judicial post.

Shad said the Merdeka and Malaysia Day celebrations should be a good time for the promotion of equality and non-discrimination. – FMT