KOTA KINABALU: A human rights advocate has cautioned that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s proposed new political party, by including the term “Pribumi”, was not in line with the Federal Constitution and may end up misleading Malays, other Muslims and Orang Asal.
“Mahathir’s new political party was obviously meant to rival Umno in Malay-majority seats in Malaya,” noted Daniel John Jambun.
“Instead, it seems to be driven by collective amnesia.”
A party that professes to focus on Malay-majority seats, he held, must be guided by Article 160 of the Federal Constitution which defines the term Malay.
“All Malays in Malaya are Muslim but not all Muslims are Malays.”
The Federal Constitution, pointed out Jambun who heads the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim), clearly states that only Muslims speaking the Malay language and born in Singapore and Malaya before Merdeka or domiciled in these two territories before 31 August 1957, and their issue, are Malays.
“This means that non-Malays who are Muslim are not Malays.”
In the same vein, stressed Jambun, the Federal Constitution makes it clear that only the Orang Asli in Malaya, the Dayak in Sarawak including the Orang Laut (Sarawak Malay), and the Dusunic and Murutic Groupings in Sabah, are Orang Asal.
“Orang Asal is a term synonymous with indigenous, as used in the Federal Constitution, and synonymous with aborigine, Native, Bumiputera, Pribumi, Pasok and Momogun.”
“If Mahathir’s party is about Malays, there’s no need to include the term Pribumi in its name as that would be tantamount to misleading the people, the Orang Asal in particular.”
Jambun, continuing his take on Mahathir’s new party, expressed the hope that it would not extend its wings to Sarawak as a backdoor route for Umno to enter the state. “It’s bad enough that Umno is already in Sabah.”
“We don’t want to see another Umno, this time in Sarawak, through Mahathir’s new party.”
The human rights advocate urged the Orang Asal to keep away from Mahathir’s new political party if it enters Borneo.
“This is not a party for change,” he charged. “This is a party resisting change. Change, for example, means compliance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).”
Change, continued Jambun, is not about convincing those who cannot change to change. “Change is about building something new.”
Using AirAsia supremo Tony Fernandes as an analogy, the Bopim Chief said the former accountant did not compete with existing players in the travel market.
“Instead, he decided to grow the market, tapping into a reservoir of people who had never flown before. They could not afford to fly.”
“Fernandes gave them a reason to fly.”
Likewise, said Jambun, the Orang Asal can no longer afford to go along with a rigged system as symbolized by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and those in the political opposition like Mahathir’s new party and PAS.
“The jury may still be out on whether PKR and Amanah really stand for change.”
The Indians and Chinese, he conceded, appear to be rooting for DAP which has its roots in Singapore’s PAP from the days when the city state had a short-lived merger with Malaya, facilitated by Sabah and Sarawak through the Federation of Malaysia.