‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is the basis of Federation of Malaya Constitution 31 August 1957

The gist, essence and resolve of the Federation of Malaya Constitution which came into enforce on 0001hrs 31 August 1957 as the fundamental principles and references of a sovereign nation instituted as a kingdom that practice Westminster style constitutional monarchy of giving democracy to the people, is undoubtedly all about ‘Ketuanan Melayu’.

The Federation of Malaya Constitution was formed based on the ‘Treaty of the Federation’ which was negotiated as a consequence to the failure and revocation of Sir Harold MacMichael’s Malayan Union, which actually came into effect with Sir Edward Gent assuming the position and role of Governor on 1 April 1946. Subsequently the British sat down in a series of meetings and negotiations with HRH Rulers and UMNO representatives were present as observers and witnesses. As a result, 0n 21 Jan 1948 the Treaty of the Federation was signed  and sealed (and eventually came to force on 1 Feb 1948) by the British High Commissioner, representatives of HRH Rulers and UMNO and adopted the pre-1941 status quo.

The most important bit of the Treaty of the Federation 1 Feb 1948 is Article 12. There was a specific mention of Article 12 on citizenship, item (a) “Any subjects of HRH Malay Rulers who were born on on before the date”, (b) “Any British subjects who were born in the Strait Settlements on or before that date”, (c) “Any persons which was born on or before the date in any of the Malay States within the Federation who is practicing the Malay culture and speak the Malay language”. There was specific provision for the application to be citizens, which clearly state the requirement to be verse in Malay. No provisions for the rights of the Non Malays were mentioned.

The spirit and essence in form and substance of the ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ was preserved and enshrined in the Federation of Malaya Constitution 31 August 1957. The specific mention is best reflected in Article 153:

  1. It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and the legitimate interests of other communities in accordance with the provisions of this Article.
  2. Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, but subject to the provisions of Article 40 and of this Article, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall exercise his functions under this Constitution and federal law in such manner as may be necessary to safeguard the special provision of the Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak and to ensure the reservation for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of such proportion as he may deem reasonable of positions in the public service (other than the public service of a State) and of scholarships, exhibitions and other similar educational or training privileges or special facilities given or accorded by the Federal Government and, when any permit or licence for the operation of any trade or business is required by federal law, then, subject to the provisions of that law and this Article, of such permits and licences.
  3. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong may, in order to ensure in accordance with Clause (2) the reservation to Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak of positions in the public service and of scholarships, exhibitions and other educational or training privileges or special facilities, give such general directions as may be required for that purpose to any Commission to which Part X applies or to any authority charged with responsibility for the grant of such scholarships, exhibitions or other educational or training privileges or special facilities; and the Commission or authority shall duly comply with the directions.
  4. In exercising his functions under this Constitution and federal law in accordance with Clauses (1) to (3) the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall not deprive any person of any public office held by him or of the continuance of any scholarship, exhibition or other educational or training privileges or special facilities enjoyed by him.
  5. This Article does not derogate from the provisions of Article 136.
  6. Where by existing federal law a permit or licence is required for the operation of any trade or business the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may exercise his functions under that law in such manner, or give such general directions to any authority charged under that law with the grant of such permits or licences, as may be required to ensure the reservation of such proportion of such permits or licences for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may deem reasonable, and the authority shall duly comply with the directions.
  7. Nothing in this Article shall operate to deprive or authorise the deprivation of any person of any right, privilege, permit or licence accrued to or enjoyed or held by him or to authorised a refusal to renew to any person any such permit or licence or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of a person any permit or licence when the renewal or grant might reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events.
  8. Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, where by any federal law any permit or licence is required for the operation of any trade or business, that law may provide for the reservation of a proportion of such permits or licences for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak; but no such law shall for the purpose of ensuring such a reservation-
    • (a) deprive or authorise the deprivation of any person of any right, privilege, permit or licence accrued to or enjoyed or held by him;
    • (b) authorise a refusal to renew to any person any such permit or licence or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of any person any permit or licence when the renewal or grant might in accordance with he other provisions of the law reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events, or prevent any person from transferring together with his business any transferable licence to operate that business; or
    • (c) where no permit or licence was previously required for the operation of the trade or business, authorise a refusal to grant a permit or licence to any person for the operation of any trade or business which immediately before the coming into force of the law he had been bona fide carrying on, or authorise a refusal subsequently to renew to any such person any permit or licence, or a refusal to grant to the heirs, successors or assigns of any such person any such permit or licence when the renewal or grant might in accordance with the other provisions of that law reasonably be expected in the ordinary course of events.
    1. (8A) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, where in any University, College and other educational institution providing education after Malaysian Certificate of Education or its equivalent, the number of places offered by the authority responsible for the management of the University, College or such educational institution to candidates for any course of study is less than the number of candidates qualified for such places, it shall be lawful for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by virtue of this Article to give such directions to the authority as may be required to ensure the reservation of such proportion of such places for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak as the Yank di-Pertuan Agong may deem reasonable, and the authority shall duly comply with the directions.
  9. (9) Nothing in this Article shall empower Parliament to restrict business or trade solely for the purpose of reservations for Malays and natives of any of the States of Sabah and Sarawak.
    1. (9A) In this Article the expression “natives” in relation to the State of Sabah or Sarawak shall have the meaning assigned to it in Article 161A.
  10. The Constitution of the State of any Ruler may make provision corresponding (with the necessary modifications) to the provisions of this Article.

‘Ketuanan Melayu’ should not be mistaken and translate on and about ‘Malay Supremacy’. ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is about  ‘Malay Dominance’, especially the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawk is the majority of the citizens of this nation. The fact is that ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ which is the basis and enshrined in the Federation of Malaysia Constitution which is the Supreme Law, is about the preservation of the rights and position of the Malays as the majority of the population. However, it does not mean that the Malays have the right or authority to take what is accorded for the Non Malays like the right to vote, own properties and own businesses. ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ is never about repressing others, in spirit, form or substance.

The essence of the wisdom, fairness and goodwill  of Malay Leaders led by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra in 1956 who negotiated first with HRH Rulers (to allow for constitutional monarchy)  and then with the British to unconditionally and with grace accept the near 1 million ‘stateless’ Non Malays (they were then neither subjects of HM Queen of Great Britian of United Kingdom and Eire nor any of HRH Rulers, as stipulated by the ‘Treaty of the Federation’, 1 Feb 1948) to be automatically granted citizenship of the soon to be born Federation of Malaya, must be understood, respected and most of all preserved as the single most important fundamental point and blueprint of being what Malaysia is today. That cannot be denied, changed or erased.

Federation of Malaya and then Malaysia bloomed into a formidable nation of unity within ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, in the true spirit of tolerance, muhhibah, co-existence and c0-operation and above all, respect and harmony. Problems only surface when Chinese Chauvinism, brought forth by PAP, in the spirit of fairness and freedom of speech, was allowed to be heard and challenged in a racially motivated tone. Upon their expulsion from the Federation on 9 August 1965, is still being carried through with intensity by the DAP till present if not more. The racial slur overtone by the minority Chinese Chauvinist DAP attempting to deny what had been preserved in the Federal Constitution and in the same breadth challenging the Malays as the majority, sparked the 13 May 1969 racial riots. At all cost, Malaysians should never go there again.

In the true spirit of  ‘1 Malaysia’ , where “rakyat first”, then the nation must come as one and uphold what had been enshrined the Federation of Malaysia Constitution. We should not condone ‘rent seeking’ as a justification for the implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in the spirit of Article 153.  However, the provisions for the Malays’ rights for business, scholarships and permits have been clearly underlined should be implemented in operational practicality under NEP. The failure in the delivery of the NEP should not be an excuse to completely discard an affirmative action plan which is was supposed to translate some of the provisions of the Federation of Malaysia Constitution under Special Rights of the Malays.

Constitutionally, the Federation of Malaysia which is a sovereign nation recognised diplomatically as legal citizen of the world and member of the United Nation is fundamentally about Malay. Islam, the religion of the Malays is the religion of the Federation of Malaysia. Malay language, the mother tongue and lingua franca of the Malay archipelago (till present) is the official language, as per Article 152. One of the nine HRH Rulers rotate every five years to assume the position of the constitutional and ceremonial leader of the nation, as His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong is a Malay and swore to protect the position of the Malays. The Conference of Rulers have met several hundred times since Merdeka, to discuss very strategic issues of the nation, which include matters on Islams, Malay culture and heritage and appointment of key positions like Chief Justice, Chief Judges, Chief of Defense Force, Attorney General, Inspector General of Police and Head Commissioner of the MACC.

Its time everyone respect that. The matter of fact to question the Special Right of the Malays,  could be deemed seditious. It is time that everyone worked within and around the ambit of the Malays is the basis of this sovereign nation.

Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 12:00  Comments (37)