Textbook racism, Wan Fayhsal slammed over Malay only PM proposal

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Attempt to legalise racism into the highest law of the country.

Human rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has slammed Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal for urging the government to amend the Federal Constitution to restrict the prime minister position to Malay Muslims.

LFL director Zaid Malek did not mince his words when he said that it was “unthinkable and outrageous” that a sitting parliamentarian suggests introducing “something akin to apartheid” by attempting to legalise racism into the highest law of the country.

“Let’s not split hairs, this proposal is textbook racism.

“Any such amendment would be struck down by the courts eventually, as legislating racism into the Federal Constitution would offend its basic structure; the Federal Court in recent decisions has recognised the ‘basic structure doctrine.’

Malaysiakini

“This means that the Federal Constitution cannot be twisted and mutilated to such an extent that it no longer carries the values of democracy and equality that was built into it at Merdeka,” Zaid said in a statement today.

This came after Bersatu’s Wan Ahmad Fayhsal called on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to introduce an amendment to the Federal Constitution to ensure that only Malays can become the prime minister, saying it could help restore Malay support for the government.

He said this in response to DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang’s remarks that a non-Malay could become prime minister.

Zaid also panned Wan Ahmad Fayhsal and Perikatan Nasional leaders, saying the fearmongering often stoked by this group has no basis in law.

He stressed that the position of the Malays and Islam cannot be so easily altered as it requires the consent of the Council of Rulers to do so, as required under Article 159 of the Federal Constitution.

“This measure of protection in itself is already enough to dismiss the baseless fears conjured up by the Machang MP.

“Any such amendment would also clash with Article 8 of the Constitution itself which enshrines the principle of equality before the law; introducing such a racist and divisive amendment into the Constitution would ultimately destroy the very meaning of the Constitution and the principles it upholds.”

Under the Federal Constitution, the only requirement for someone to be prime minister, as per Article 43(2)(a), is that the premier be an MP, who, in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s judgement, has majority support in Dewan Rakyat.

Even though race is not mentioned, Zaid said, by convention the prime minister has come from the majority race.

“The Constitution thus allows flexibility and pragmatism. Tampering with the Constitution now is dangerous, reckless and unnecessary.

“Limiting the role of prime minister along racial and religious lines may fracture the fine balancing achieved by our Constitution as it exists.”

He also urged Anwar and the government to immediately reject the “abhorrent suggestion” by Wan Ahmad Fayhsal and condemn it unequivocally.

Meanwhile, Sarawak leaders also slammed Wan Fayhsal for his proposal.

Sarawak Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said Malaysia could only progress and gain international respect if leaders abandon ethnocentric perspectives, Free Malaysia Today reported.

Abdul Karim said that the people and leaders in the country should do away with such rhetoric, especially after more than six decades of independence.

“It is unfortunate to see we still have within our midst leaders who play the racial and religious (card).

“Malaysia is a multiracial and multi-religious country. If we want to progress and be respected within the country and beyond, we need to do away with all this racist outlook.

“We expect Malaysians, especially the leaders, to adopt a more open and mature outlook. We desire leaders who think as Malaysians.

Bernama

“We seek leaders who refrain from discriminating against minorities, those who believe in merit-based acceptance to lead Malaysia, rather than being chosen based on race,” he was quoted as saying.

Julau MP Datuk Larry Sng said that politicising such issues will only widen the gap between races and would not benefit the country’s progress.

He also questioned whether this meant natives from Sabah and Sarawak would be barred from leading the country in the future.

Bernama

“Bumiputera from Borneo who are non-Malay should be allowed to lead one day. Therefore, any amendment limiting the premiership to one race is discriminatory in nature,” he was quoted as saying.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the vision of the country’s founders was to build a nation where every Malaysian could contribute.

“This includes the possibility of assuming leadership, even the top position, and be measured by their abilities and contributions to the country we call our own,” he was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reported Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) secretary-general Baru Bian as saying that he was confident that East Malaysian MPs will not support the move to limit the post of prime minister to Malay Muslims.

The Ba’Kelalan assemblyperson also expressed disappointment with Wan Ahmad Fayhsal for making such a proposition.

“But I believe he is again trying to politicise race or religion for their (Perikatan Nasional) own agenda. Sadly, many are falling into this fallacy,” he was quoted as saying.

Bernama

Baru pointed out that race and religion are not stated as prerequisites in the Federal Constitution on this matter.

“This was never one of the conditions that our forefathers in Sarawak and Sabah agreed to or envisaged.

“If (Prime Minister) Anwar (Ibrahim) were to amend the Federal Constitution, I am confident Sarawak and Sabah MPs will not support such an idea,” he was quoted as saying.

Baru also said that he never heard of the ‘social contract’ mentioned by Wan Ahmad Fayhsal.

The “social contract” is often used to refer to the compromises between the majority and ethnic populations in Malaysia. However, there are no documents to show such a “social contract” exists.

To amend the Constitution, two-thirds of the 222 MPs must support it. Sabah and Sarawak have a total of 57 federal seats, whereas in Peninsular Malaysia, there are 165 seats.