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‘Revisit position of Islam, Malays in constitution’

 | September 17, 2013

A think-tank's CEO says the government is constantly emphasising on Articles 3 and 153 of the Federal Constitution, resulting in policies that are skewed to favour one community.

KUALA LUMPUR: Institute of Democracy Economic and Social Affairs (Ideas) Chief Executive Officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan today called for the revisiting of the position of Islam and the Malays in the Federal Constitution as it had began dividing instead of uniting the society.

Since Article 153 safeguarded the special position of the Malays and natives in Sabah and Sarawak, and with article 3 stating that Islam was the official religion of the federation, the government had been reiterating that one group was superior and overemphasising on Islam.

In the light of that, the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had announced on Saturday the latest economic plan, Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda (BEEA), to provide a bigger slice of the economic pie to the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Hopefully, the articles can be removed in 10 to 15 years,” Wan Saiful said when he spoke on how the clauses in the federal constitution affected the balance of power during a forum entitled, “Fifty years of democracy: Has it weakened or strengthened our federal constitution.”

Wan Saiful also spoke on Najib’s previous economic policy – the New Economic Model – which he said was, “liberalising but not much towards creating a 1Malaysia.”

“Najib, through the BEEA, is steering the people towards viewing the government as further moving away from 1Malaysia concept crafted by the PM,” he said, while urging the Malays who were not comfortable with Malay-favouring policies to speak up and influence other fellow Malays against it.

“It is a challenge for Malays who believe in equality to tell fellow Malays to be confident of themselves.This is not something non-Malays to tell as they would be seen as interfering,” he said, adding that under these circumstances, political parties such as PAS and PKR should lead a campaign.

Meanwhile, lawyer Tommy Thomas speaking on the judiciary’s track record for the last 50 years, criticised the judiciary for not upholding the constitution and also the courts’ poor interpretation of the constitution.

The forum jointly organised by the Malaysian Centre for Constitution and Human Rights, Bar Council and several others was hosted by Bersih co-chairman S Ambiga.


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