The chief organiser of the Malay Dignity Congress has come under fire from political leaders in Sabah over his remark that Malaysia belongs to the Malays, with many reminding him of Sabah and Sarawak’s claim to the country as well.
Zainal Kling said yesterday that their social contract with the Malays was the basis on which other communities had received citizenship.
He also said the social contract could be suspended if non-Malays break the agreement.
Malaysia is for Malays just as Thailand is for the Thais, China for the Chinese, and India for the Indians, he said.
Parti Bersatu Sabah president Maximus Ongkili said it appeared that the “minds of some quarters” were still trapped in the “pre-Malaysia” era.
“I am shocked that 62 years after Malaya gained its independence, there are still groups who claim that this country belongs only to one particular race,” he said.
“This only proves that we are far from being a mature and developed nation.”
Ongkili, who is Kota Marudu MP, also warned Zainal against arrogance, saying non-Malays, especially those from Sabah and Sarawak, had also played a role in the formation of Malaysia.
“Stop putting down other communities who helped build this nation,” he added.
“Where do you put the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak? We are co-owners of this country, too.”
Sabah MCA women’s chief Pamela Yong said that while progressive leaders around the world were fighting for the rights of minorities, Malaysians appeared trapped in a ‘Malay versus non-Malays bubble’.
She said the ‘Malaysia Baru’ concept touted during the last general election had turned out to be “just another smokescreen”.
“It is disappointing that we still have leaders who are publicly spewing racial, seditious and inflammatory remarks,” she added.
Sabah Progressive Party deputy president Japiril Suhaimin said such comments were unacceptable and did not augur well for a multiracial and multi-religious country such as Malaysia.
“It’s sheer ignorance for Zainal to claim that Malaysia belongs to the Malays only. Malaysia belongs to all the citizens of various races.
“Sabah and Sarawak do not belong to the Malays,” he said.
He added that there are some 42 ethnic groups in Sabah and 40 in Sarawak.
Earlier, International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking said the manner of the “social contract through inheritance” as to how Zainal described it to be is deemed no longer existent in that context when Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and the Federated States of Malaya jointly formed the Federation of Malaysia, but is in fact now stated in its new form as in the Federal Constitution.
Hence the question of inheritance does not arise anymore because, through the Malaysian Agreement, Malaysia is not the land of Malays but the land of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Dusuns, Muruts, Bajaus, Ibans and Dayaks.
“So, I hope Zainal will understand it clearly that Sabah and Sarawak did not “join” but “formed together as separate entities” the Federation of Malaysia and he should make a detailed research on Malaysia Agreement 1963 before using the social contract in Malaysia as his basis of an argument.”
The Penampang MP also said it was unfair to put the blame on non-Malays and threaten their citizenship whenever an issue involving Malays emerged.
He said such an attitude would only lead to a divided and polarised Malaysia, though those who made such remarks may enjoy momentary vindication or a feel-good factor.
Continuous attacks on non-Malays would be unhealthy, he added, because Malays already enjoy the benefits and privileges provided by the Federal Constitution.
“Non-Malays have to work harder than Malays while, at the same time, they are expected to contribute to the development of the country.”