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Saturday, November 1, 2008

RPK on Article 153 and the “Social Contract”


Raja Petra Kamarudin

My sedition trial will resume on 10th November 2008 after a three week postponement. Thus far six prosecution witnesses have testified and it appears like the prosecution has 10-13 more witnesses lined up.

Basically, the government is of the view that my article, “Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell”, is seditious. And to ensure that I am duly punished, other than facing trial, I am also under Internal Security Act detention. This means, even if the court acquits me, I shall still not be free. It is like taking double insurance. Either way you are covered.

I suppose sedition is the natural thing to charge me with. Moses was charged with sedition that he had to flee Egypt. Jesus was charged with sedition and the Christians believe he was executed because of that. Muhammad too was charged with sedition and the Muslims believe that God commanded him to flee Mecca lest he get murdered that same evening.

I am not trying to compare myself to the three main prophets of the Abrahamic religions. What I am trying to say is that if even the three most important prophets of the Jews, Christians and Muslim are not spared the allegation of sedition, then who am I to escape?

On 7th November, the court will decide if my ISA detention is legal. I could say that my freedom is now in the hands of the judge and may he rule wisely. And of course, to me, “wisely” would mean to free me – whereas that may not quite be the government’s view of “wise”.

Something significant of late was the Rulers’ statement on Article 153 and the “Social Contract”. We could say that this was historic as the Rulers have never thus far made such statements. Could this be said as something timely or something the Rulers should not have done? I really don’t know.

The Pakatan Rakyat Kedah state government’s ruling of imposing a 50% Bumiputra quota on houses in the state does not help either. Why 50%? Why even 30%? Should in the first place there even be a quota?

If you have not done so this you should read Zaid Ibrahim’s book “In Good Faith”, Zaid has addressed this matter of Article 153 and the “Social Contract” with great clarity.

What the Kedah state government has done is unconstitutional. Article 8 and Article 153 of the Constitution do not allow this. You just can’t dictate how people run their businesses.

Those who support the imposition of quotas argue that there exists a “Social Contract” that allows them to do so. But while they mention this “Social Contract”, they fail to mention the terms of this “contract”, what it says, and who is bound by it.

In short, if I am not a party to that contract can I be bound by it? The contract was entered into by the Malays and the then immigrant Indians and Chinese; of course it is not really a written contract as much as a verbal contract and we all know that a verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on.

Nevertheless, should Malaysian-born Indians and Chinese who have never even visited India and China be made to abide to a verbal “contract” made by their immigrant parents and/or grandparents? How long will this “contract” run? Will Indians and Chinese 1000 years from now still be made to abide to a “contract” made in 1957?

There should be a cut-off date. There must come a point of time when all Malaysians are regarded as equal. How can an Indonesian who migrated to this country a few years ago be regarded as Bumiputra when Chinese and Indians who come to this country in the 1400s are still second class citizens?

Yes, Article 153 accords Malays certain rights and privileges. But that same Article, and Article 8, do not allow imposing of quotas and permits which deny Indians and Chinese their rights in favour of the Malays. This, many people do not seem to understand.

We also seem to have forgotten that the New Economic Policy is a two-pronged attack. Other than reducing the gap between the different races it is also about reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. And this would mean regardless of race.

When we talk about the Malay farmers and fisherman. We do not seem to realize that there are Chinese farmers and fishermen as well. Poverty does not recognize race.

It is time that the “Social Contract” be reviewed. A new “Social Contract” must be drawn up that looks into the SOCIAL structure and not RACIAL structure that the present “Social Contract” addresses. Only then can it be called a “Social Contract”. If not, then let us call it what it really is, a “Racial Contract”.

The poverty level also needs to be reviewed. The new “hardcore” poverty level should be RM1200. Anyone earning below RM1200 per month should be considered poor. That would mean a high percentage of Malaysians. Then the NEW “Social Contract” should address the needs of those who live below the NEW poverty level of RM1200.

And the NEW “Social Contract” should no longer be a verbal contract but chiseled in stone. And it should be a contract to take care of Malays, Indians, Chinese, Portuguese, Ibans, Dayaks, etc. As long as you are poor, meaning earning below RM1200 then you are taken care of. That should be Malaysia’s NEW SOCIAL CONTRACT.

Before I sign off, I would like to apologise for the quality of my articles. It is not so convenient to type from where I currently live so I need to just get my points across without much focus on the presentation. I hope this will not be for long and that I may soon be back with you. Anyway I was told that Malaysia Today is under control and in good hands. Till we speak again.

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