Secession is not an Option


September 1, 2014

After 51 years of federalism in which the centre (Putrajaya) is dominant, the time has come for us Din MericanY to review the bases of our relationship with Sabah and Sarawak. Both states have grown and a few generations have gone, and now there is growing restlessness among Sabahans and Sarawakians. To some extent, Malaysia is already a success. We have created political awareness among the people there. But we have more work to do to achieve national integration.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has said that stern action will be taken against those in the two states who are advocating secession. They have threatened to take the issue of self-determination to the United Nations. The UN route to deal with our internal affairs is a retrogressive step since the issue was settled nearly three scores ago by both the Cobbold Commission and the United Nations team in 1963. Furthermore, I do not have much faith in the United Nations. I believe in our own ability to deal with our problems. We have the means and experience to manage our own affairs.

The idea of secession is not an option. Sabah and Sarawak are part of Malaysia. That means we cannot entertain the idea of political separation. People advocating this separation should be warned to stop playing with fire. But a better  and more equitable deal for Sabahans and Sarawakians? Yes. According to Dr. Puyok, “[T]he federal-state conflict in Malaysia is caused by an “ideological clash” between federal and state leaders, imbalance in centre-periphery relations, and lack of meaningful engagement between federal and state administrative officers.” I agree with his point of view.

Let us, therefore, not ignore the concerns of Sabah and Sarawak. In stead, we should begin a new era of constructive engagement with our brothers and sisters in East Malaysia. Take integration beyond the level of political rhetoric, and deal with the fundamental issues concerning federal-state relations that have been swept under the carpet for far too long. In this regard, the Najib administration must act in earnest based on a clear vision of national unity and integration.

najib and his deputyProject Malaysia must be taken to a new and perhaps a more enlightened level. The feeling that we at the centre are a bunch of neo-colonialists (and thereby lending credence to President Sukarno’s claim that Malaysia is a “neo-colonialist plot” hatched by the British) must be eliminated.

Let us recognise for starters that what politicians and public officials say and do at the centre affect Sabah and Sabah. One case in point is the Allah issue. Another matter of pressing concern is revenue sharing. Prime Minister Najib should begin the dialogue with leaders of Sabah and Sarawak and civil society as soon as possible.  –Din Merican

Secession is not an Option

by Dr. Arnold Puyok*

Merdeka--57

After 51 years since the formation of Malaysia, the issue of secession has come to haunt the country once again. While the calls for secession by some quarters in Sabah and Sarawak are not as serious as it looks in the social media, anti-federal feelings are real and growing.It is not too late to “save” Malaysia. The federal structure was designed in such a way to preserve the uniqueness of each state in the federation.

The main problem faced by the country lies in the weaknesses in the implementation of the Federal Constitution. It is time that Malaysians – the young especially – to take a hard look at the country’s origin by studying the Federal Constitution.

Now, the Federation of Malaysia is said to be on the brink of collapse. The federal-state conflict in Malaysia is caused by an “ideological clash” between federal and state leaders, imbalance in centre-periphery relations, and lack of meaningful engagement between federal and state administrative officers.

Ideological clash

The ideological approach in federalism discusses the “ideological and philosophical foundation of federalism”. Ideologies clash because of differences in language, culture and religion. Malaysia’s federal foundation is essentially driven by Malay-Muslim ideology – a “copycat” of the previous federal structure under the Federation of Malaya – even though the later federal structure (the Federation of Malaysia) was significantly altered to accommodate non-Islamic and non-Malay territories of Sabah and Sarawak.

From 1957 to 1963, efforts to “build” the country through language and education were done with a strong Malay-Muslim flavour. With a strong federal support, Sabah’s Third Chief Minister Tun Mustapha Harun promoted a policy of “one language (Malay), one religion (Islam) and one culture (Malay)” as a basis for creating national solidarity in Sabah. This was opposed by many non-Muslim Sabahans.

Imbalance in centre-periphery relations

This imbalance is marked by centralisation of power by the federal government.Under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for instance, the federal government would use its constitutional and political power to force the state to prioritise federal than state needs.

The federal government would “punish” stubborn state leaders who refuse to subscribe to its agenda by declaring them “persona non grata” in the country’s decision-making process and also by reducing the compulsory federal allocation to the state.

In education, school syllabi do not reflect Malaysia’s multicultural outlook. Sabah’s and Sarawak’s unique historical and cultural background were not given due consideration. On the economic front, the government’s revenue and total expenditure were dominated by the federal – 96% and 80% respectively in 1990.

Lack of engagement

Owning a satellite dish by private individuals in Sabah is one of the many thorny issues in federal-state relations.

The federal government disallowed the use of a private satellite dish without licence. Sabah counter-argued saying that the federal government was protecting Astro and was victimising Sabahans, especially those in the rural areas who did not have the means to access to information.

Licensing requirements caused unhappiness and led to perception of federal officers’ lack of sensitivity to local needs.

There is also this issue of Sabah wanting to proclaim its natural sites as World Heritage Site. But the federal government refused to support the initiative unless those sites are federalised. Another “hot-button” issue is the state’s lack of autonomy in educational affairs.

The state has charged that it cannot manage school projects below RM500,000. Many schools, especially in rural areas, are in dire need of repairs and maintenance. However, these are slow as state officers need to wait for approval from their federal counterparts. Work progress is also affected by delay in payment to local contractors by Putrajaya.

Clear vision of national unity and integration

The first point of the Vision 2020 is “to establish a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny – a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one Bangsa Malaysia with political loyalty and dedication to the nation”.

But the questions are: how are we going to become a united Malaysian nation if we are still arguing over the year of our country’s founding? How are we to achieve the Bangsa Malaysia race if we continue to exclusively defend our rights – race, religious, and regional?

Our leaders must be extremely clear about where they want to bring Malaysia to. The concept of 1Malaysia looks ideal on paper but it has to be made workable in practice: is it a concept for the purpose of nation-building? Is it a concept for rebranding of government commercial products? Is it a concept to promote the country’s tourism industry?

Equilibrium in centre-periphery relations

It is time the federal government decentralised power as a way to lessen its dominance and to allow the state to develop independently according to its needs.

Apart from checking and balancing the power of the federal government, decentralisation, if applied effectively and judiciously, can also ensure effectiveness in public-delivery system.

Crucially, the state should be allowed to deal independently with its socio-cultural policy. Sabah and Sarawak should determine how they wish to preserve their people’s diverse culture, just like India’s “territorial linguism” and Ethiopia’s “cultural and linguistic autonomy”.

Our leaders could also enact a Territorial Integration Act to renew the commitment of federal and state leaders to abide by the Federal Constitution.It is a kind of “oath fellowship” that can be found in Switzerland to conserve differences and diversity.

The government should also establish a constitutional court to arbiter conflict between the federal and state governments – i.e. a special court in Germany – the Federal Constitutional Court — to check against the centralising tendency of the federal government.

Before decentralisation of power can be fully implemented, a National Council of Decentralisation orbm_puyok2 National Decentralisation Commission should be established to review aspects that are over-centralised and need to be decentralised, areas that are under-centralised and need to be centralised, and to review the concept of power sharing between the federal and state governments in light of Malaysia’s multicultural make-up.

Constructive engagement

The role of the State Federal Office needs to be strengthened so that federal priorities do not clash with that of a state’s.The government can also organise a yearly conference between federal and state administrative officers to discuss issues in implementation of federal and state programmes.

Secession threats are culminated in dissatisfactions of some sections of society. People who promote secession should be engaged in a civil and rational manner.The government must double the efforts to increase the sense of belonging of people from various races and religions. Malaysia is worth preserving but it also needs changing.

* Dr Arnold Puyok is a lecturer at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/secession-not-the-solution-to-malaysias-problem-arnold-puyok

‘AMANAT MERDEKA’ by The Hon’ble Prime Minister of Malaysia


August 31, 2014

‘AMANAT MERDEKA by The Hon’ble Prime Minister of Malaysia

Najib2[Following is the English translation of the full text of speech delivered by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the 57th National Day address at Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysian Tourism Centre (Matic) in Kuala Lumpur on the evening of August 30, 2014.]

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh, Salam Sejahtera and Salam 1Malaysia, Beloved Malaysians,

1.Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks be to Allah, with His permission once again, wherever we may be in this country, we continue to be protected in peace, to celebrate the anniversary of our independence.

2.Unlike in previous years, when the message was recorded and broadcast over the television, tonight I have chosen to speak live to hundreds of people present on the eve of independence, to express the spirit of patriotism and the burning desire of the nation’s struggle, from eye to eye, from heart to heart, especially for all of you who are here representing the people of Malaysia.

3.The reality is that every independence begins with a noble struggle and unparalleled sacrifice, especially by the Malay Rulers and palace, political leaders and the people.

4.In this respect, if we look at the history of our nation, we were colonialised for four and a half centuries, beginning with the fall of the Malacca Malay Sultanate at the hands of the Portuguese in 1511 until the British administration. The colonialists came in succession to reap the benefits and to suppress the natives, up until independence on August 31, 1957.

5.Looking back at history, everyone must remember that this country originated as the Federation of Malay States, and subsequently united with Sabah and Sarawak.

6.With reference to this episode, we hear rumblings and unsavoury voices which question why the date of the formation of Malaysia is not the same as the date of independence; why September 16, when in the Peninsula, it’s August 31.

7.In this matter, we have to study what was really worked out by the special commission which was assigned to conduct a referendum among the people of Sabah and Sarawak in the process of the formation of Malaysia at that time.

8.For the information of the public, the later date came about due to technical reasons, because the Cobbold Commission had to wait for verification from the United Nations on the majority agreement through a referendum before finalising its report. As such, September 16 was fixed as the day for the formation of Malaysia.

Beloved Malaysians,

9.Going from there, this year, we celebrate the 57th anniversary of independence and the 51st year of Sabah and Sarawak having been with us as one Malaysia. Long live Malaysia, long live Malaysia!

Beloved Malaysians,

10.As such, we are thankful for the common history between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak, which are separated by the South China Sea, as well as the bond of brotherhood of all Malaysians from Arau in Perlis to Semporna in Sabah and Ulu Lachau in Sarawak, that cannot be broken; in fact, God willing, it will be strengthened further.

11. Hence, as soon as the 13th general election was over, to symbolise the new mandate received by the government, I did not hesitate to appoint a number of ministers and deputy ministers from Sabah and Sarawak in respect of the support given by our brethren there to the Barisan Nasional (BN).

12. Now more than one year has passed. The number of representatives from Sabah and Sarawak in the government is an important yardstick in determining the next course for our beloved Malaysia.

13. I had stressed in my major addresses over the past more than one year that the present government has a huge responsibility in prioritising the interests of the people, particularly the Malay and Bumiputera communities, Muslims and non-Muslims, who represent more than 70 per cent of the Malaysian people, by 2020.

14. So, whatever the opposition tries to do though incitement and accusations, we are steadfast in our agenda to empower the people.

Beloved Malaysians,

15. Recalling our pre-independence history, the complexities surrounding our quest for Merdeka had caused some apprehension among certain quarters on our choice to do it our way. But it can be seen that we have turned our plural society into an asset for prosperity and an ingredient of success at the highest level.

Beloved Malaysians,

16. We plan and leave the rest to God; this country had faced and weathered numerous challenges. Yet our Merdeka heart, Merdeka soul and Merdeka spirit shine through, such that we are able to rise above all and acquire success, our own way. Well done, Malaysians! Well done, Malaysians!

17.For instance, when the nation gained independence, the poverty rate was over 60 per cent. It dropped to 1.7 per cent in 2012, where hardcore poverty was almost eradicated.

18.When I took over the leadership and administration of the country in 2009, the 1Malaysia concept of ‘People First, Performance Now’ was introduced, based on the National Transformation Policy or NTP. The framework encompasses the bigger national transformation agenda, which began with the Government Transformation Programme or GTP, Economic Transformation Programme or ETP, Political Transformation Programme or PTP, Community Transformation Programme or CTP, Social Transformation Programme or STP and Fiscal Transformation Programme or FTP.

19. The results, in five years, were numerous achievements, which have been acknowledged internationally and which I have outlined in my speeches and reports.

20.The national economy showed a very encouraging trend in the second quarter of 2014 with a gross domestic product growth of 6.4 per cent, compared to 4.5 per cent in the corresponding period in 2013, the highest ever recorded since the fourth quarter of 2012. This makes our achievement the highest among the Asean countries for the first half of 2014.

Source: http://www.nst.com.my/node/28407

Remembering Merdeka


August 30, 2014

Remembering Merdeka

by Tunku Abdul Aziz@www.nst.my.com

tunku-azizMANY of the 300 young Malayans, men and women, who heard the news first-hand ahead of the official announcement in Malacca, that their country would be an independent nation on August 31, 1957 are, sadly, no longer with us to celebrate the 57th Merdeka anniversary tomorrow. The years have taken their toll: the survivors have not been spared the ravages of time.

Those of us who took our places in the Kirkby College Hall on that grey, overcast and bitterly cold February afternoon to welcome Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, our honoured visitor and future Prime Minister of independent Malaya, had expected nothing more momentous than the standard homily about “working hard and playing hard” that distinguished visitors always seemed to be armed with. The Tunku quickly got into his stride and spoke without notes, in a tone of voice that gave not the slightest hint of what he had in store for his listeners.

He began by telling us that he and his colleagues had been in London holding constitutional talks at Lancaster House with Her Majesty’s Government on Malayan independence. He went on to say that they were extremely pleased with the outcome of the meeting which had paved the way for the country’s independence. He attributed the success of his Merdeka Mission to the “trust and goodwill on all sides”.

He paid special tribute to the people of Malaya for their unstinting support in the quest for freedom. This had proved to be an important point in convincing the British that the various Malayan races were at one in their demand for independence.

Then, without warning, he broke the welcome news that stunned us. Merdeka would be granted on August Tunku31, 1957, God willing. The date until then had been a closely-guarded secret, and how privileged we felt to be the first Malayans to hear the glad tidings.

It took a second or two for the full import of the momentous announcement to sink in before the assembly, as if on cue, broke into a restrained round of applause.Understated would aptly describe our reaction: British reserve had triumphed over our traditional Malayan exuberance. I suppose the freezing English winter weather was partly to blame for the less than wildly boisterous reaction to the historic occasion.

What tangled thoughts ran through our minds as we began the process of bringing them into some semblance of order, I could only guess? It would be fair to say that most of us harboured, albeit secretly, grave doubts about the country’s future.

We wondered whether the two major communities, the Chinese and the Malays, would be able to find accommodation and live in peace and harmony. Continuing, the Tunku reminded us that the fight for freedom without democracy would be quite meaningless. He talked about our duties and responsibilities as citizens of a free country, and how important it was for all Malayans to live in harmony so as to ensure lasting peace and prosperity for all. It was a message that continues to be relevant and, perhaps, even more so in today’s political climate.

We were not too sanguine about the country’s long-term prospects for racial harmony having read enough about what the coming of independence had done, a decade earlier, to India. The spectre of widespread ethnic and religious violence that so marred and blighted India’s independence was very much in the forefront of our collective consciousness.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech to the Indian Constituent Assembly on Aug 15, 1947, Tryst with Destiny, containing that memorable line, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, as the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom” made a deep impression on most of us young people.

Nehru more than Mahatma Gandhi was my inspiration. Tunku came later as a leader I admired greatly. Even as the great Indian statesman was speaking, India was engulfed in flames: the streets of that ancient land were awash with Hindu, Sikh and Muslim blood. Religious violence still breaks out in parts of India with regular monotony. We had every reason to fear for the future of our country, and that was only natural. Were we ready for independence with all that this implied in social, political and economic terms? It was a question that loomed large for us then.

For all the apprehension about what the future might bring, none of us would ever forget the event that unfolded in that little corner of rural Lancashire on February 7, 1956. It was in a very real sense the beginning of a dramatic spiritual journey into the unknown for all Malayans, and unlike most journeys, there was no turning back when the Union flag finally came down past the midnight hour on the Selangor Club Padang. It might have signalled the imminent end of empire for the British, but for us it was the dawn of a new life, the life that we were at long last free to live as we chose.

merdekaWhen we reacquired our country in 1957 through negotiations, we set to with a will to confound our detractors and prove how wrong they were all along. Few thought we would survive the first few years on our own, and yet, 57 years later, despite the teething problems and birth pangs of a new nation, we remain a people deeply committed to multiracialism as a way of life.

When we think of the complexity of our society, what we have achieved for our country borders on the miraculous. As we stride out proudly to celebrate our many achievements tomorrow, let us remember that the key to our future is racial harmony and unity of purpose. We have much to be grateful for: the future is in our hands.

Many Happy Returns of the Day, Malaysia.

57 Years of Trials, Tribulations and Successes


August 30, 2014

57 Years of Trials, Tribulations and Successes

by Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar@www.nst.com.my

Merdeka--57

THE number “57” has a significant meaning. Malaysia, born in 1957, will be 57 this year. So far, this year has not been easy. Too many things have happened in the last eight months. There was never a dull day in the world in 2014 so far.

Perhaps it is true, the Year of the Wooden Horse under the Chinese zodiac is not going to be an easy one. Some believe calamities, turmoil and uncertainties will be the order of the year. There is simply too much “energy” out there.

So far not so good. Malaysia, too, has its share of problems. The national airline, already crippled by financial burden, endured two incidences that will definitely redefine the aviation industry — the spectacular disappearance of MH370 and the shooting down of MH17. Malaysians were united in those tragedies.

We have come this far. It wasn’t an easy journey though. We had our fair share of trials and tribulations. Six Prime Ministers and 57 years later, we have our proud moments and some bad ones. Our leaders are not perfect. But they have tried their best. We will not be where we are today had it not been for their vision, tenacity and commitment. There are countries that became independent about the same time but are still struggling economically.

6 PMs of MalaysiaLeft to Right: Tunku, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Dr. Mahathir, Tun Abdullah,  Dato Seri Najib  Tun Razak

This is not an easy country to govern. Diversity has its perils. Multiculturalism sounds good as a discourse but is not easy to manage. Religion can divide and the division can be severe. Voices of reason can easily be silenced by the noisy few.

People of different races can simply drift apart. We can see some cracks on unity. We are acutely aware of some segments of our society promoting bigotry and hate in the name of religion and race. Left unchecked, it will destroy us.

Where were we when the clock struck 12 midnight, August 31, 1957? We were not even sure of our destiny yet we were proud and the pride was contagious. Sceptics were saying, we can’t even manufacture a jarum (needle) what good was merdeka? The people were largely poor, especially the Malays.

1957 was the year of Semerah Padi, the second film helmed by P. Ramlee for the Malay Film Productions company and Pontianak starring the stunningly beautiful Maria Menado at Cathay Keris Films.

The newspaper Berita Harian was published that year, 10 years ahead of Utusan Malaysia, the Romanised edition of Utusan Melayu, the flag bearer of the company of the same name. That was the year of The Bridge on the River Kwai, directed by supremo David Lean. That was the year when James Agee wrote A Death in the Family, and The West Side Story became a hit Broadway Show.

The first truly soap opera, Peyton Place was featured on TV. A Frenchman, hailed as one of the pioneers of “absurd literature”, Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Tough action hero and notorious romantic Humphrey Bogart of Casablanca fame died. The population of the world was 2.8 billion.

Things were less complicated back then in this country. The kentung called the villages for prayers and emergencies in the villages. The price of kuih was 2 sen. And a ringgit could buy a lot of things. A kati (before the measurement was in kilogram) of rice was the price of a day’s work. I was in my fourth year in a primary school when Tunku Abdul Rahman saw the lowering of the Union Jack in Kuala Lumpur.

What is merdeka to us? What does it mean to Malaysians? Besides the parade, the rituals, the celebration, Hari Kemerdekaan (Independence Day) should be a reflection of all things past and the need to move forward. We have achieved great things, our economic success is the envy of many and our infrastructures are world-class. We need to identify areas of weakness. Let’s ask some serious questions on unity and equality. Let’s talk about the quality of life. Let’s relook at our education system that is supposed to bind us, and the national language that is the denominator of unity.

“Di sini bermulanya sebuah cinta” (where love grows) adopted as the tagline for this year’s Hari Kemerdekaan was a line from a hugely popular Sudirman song. Independence Day is also about national consciousness, patriotism and the sense of belonging — the values that many believe are eroding in the making of a nation.

Let’s just remind ourselves of the challenges ahead as a people and a nation — together we shall prevail as one. Dirgahayu Malaysiaku!

 

Happy Birthday (Selamat Hari Jadi) Malaysia


August 29, 2014

Happy Birthday (Selamat Hari Jadi) Malaysia

Kamsiah and DinDr. Kamsiah and I wish all Malaysians Happy Independence (Merdeka) Day. Yes indeed. On August 31, 2014 we will celebrate the 57th Anniversary of Independence.Let there be peace, harmony, prosperity and unity in our bountiful nation.

Before we forget, August 31, 1957 was when Malaya got its independence from the British. September 16, 1963 was when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia (leaving aside Singapore which left the Federation on August 9, 1965). Two different dates to commemorate independence.

Why the need to have two national holidays, one we call Hari Merdeka and the other we label Hari Malaysia ? Let us decide if our national day is August 31 or September 16. This is a simple decision to make.Let us choose if we want to be known as Malaysians, not as Sabahans, Sarawakians, and West Malaysians. We are able to have a common time; yet we cannot have a common national day. That does not make any sense to us. Maybe that is not important enough to our political leadership. On the contrary, we think this issue must be addressed as a matter of top priority. Since the formation of Malaysia, we have not gone beyond the rhetoric of national integration. Read article by Balan Moses (below)

Having been to Sabah and Sarawak many times, Dr. Kamsiah and I are struck by the fact that there is no affinity between us. We have, in fact, become antagonistic towards and suspicious of one another. It is, therefore, time for us to address this issue of national integration seriously, and nip all the talk of secession from Malaysia in the bud. To do that we must give members of our multi-ethnic society a fair deal  to enable us to live the Malaysian dream as envisioned by Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues at the time of  the formation of Malaysia.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Proclamation of Malaysia

AND WHEREAS it has been agreed by the parties to the said Agreement that as from the establishment of Malaysia the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore shall cease to be colonies of Her Majesty the Queen and Her Majesty the Queen shall relinquish Her Sovereignty and jurisdiction in respect of the three States:

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Praise to God, the Lord of the Universe, and may the benediction and peace of God be upon Our Leader Muhammad and upon all his Relations and Friends.

WHEREAS by an Agreement made on the Ninth day of July in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three between the Federation of Malaya, the United Kingdom, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore it was agreed that there shall be federated the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore with the Federation of Malaya comprising the states of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang[1] and Malacca, and that the Federation shall thereafter be called “MALAYSIA“:

AND WHEREAS there has been promulgated a Constitution for Malaysia which shall be the supreme law therein:

AND WHEREAS by the Constitution aforesaid provision has been made for the safeguarding of the rights and prerogatives of Their Highnesses the Rulers and the Fundamental rights and liberties of subjects and for the promotion of peace and harmony in Malaysia as a constitutional monarchy based upon parliamentary democracy:

AND WHEREAS the Constitution aforesaid having been approved by a law passed by the Parliaments of the Federation of Malaya and of the United Kingdom has come into force on the Sixteenth day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three:

Tunku1stNOW in the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, I, TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA AL-HAJ IBNI ALMARHUM SULTAN ABDUL HAMID HALIM SHAH, Prime Minister of Malaysia, with the concurrence and approval of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of the Federation of Malaya, His Excellency the Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore, His Excellency the Yang di-Pertua Negara of Sabah and His Excellency the Governor of Sarawak, DO HEREBY DECLARE AND PROCLAIM on behalf of the peoples of Malaysia that as from the Sixteenth day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three, corresponding to the twenty-eighth day of Rabi’ul Akhir in the year of the Hijrah one thousand three hundred and eighty-three, that MALAYSIA comprising the States of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang,[1] Malacca, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak shall by the Grace of God, the Lord of the Universe, forever be an independent and sovereign democratic State founded upon liberty and justice, ever seeking to defend and uphold peace and harmony among its people and to perpetuate peace among nations.

Prime Minister
Kuala Lumpur
16th day of September 1963

MALAYSIANS: LET US BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE

by Balan Moses

http://news.abnxcess.com/2014/08/malaysians-let-us-be-the-change-we-want-to-see/

WHEN Tunku Abdul Rahman’s shouts of “Merdeka” rang out three times in the Merdeka Stadium on August 31 57 years ago, he was rejoicing in the freedom that Malayans would be enjoying in their new country.

No more the multitude of restraints in the clutches of a colonial master; no more the lack of a common identity as a nation; no more the lack of self-determination.

The other founding fathers from the Chinese and Indian communities would have felt similarly, joining the Malay prince in laying a common platform of rights and privileges for all.He probably envisaged a nation of perpetual sharing, an united nation where the running theme would be one for all and all for one.

Those were indeed less complicated times when people were more humane and there was anBalan-Moses-ENG NEW-1 unbelievable level of give and take among Malayans.Were there latent signs of uneasiness among the various communities? I really don’t know but history tells this child of the 50’s that life went on without major disagreement  among the people.

Was it because we were almost one against the British and that our commonalities as a people came into play for that day and time?  Perhaps.But as we prepare to usher in the 57th year of independence as a nation, we find ourselves split politically, racially and socially like never before.

Of course, there was May 13, 1969, but that should be seen as an exception to the rule that we have had a relatively good run as a nation with mutual respect being the order of the day.No amount of sugar-coating that we are still intact as a multi-racial nation will detract from the truth that a huge chasm has formed politically with the ruling Barisan Nasional at loggerheads with Pakatan Rakyat.

Both sides do not give or take any quarter from each other, going for the jugular in any situation to try and obtain the advantage.

On the religious front, we have an Islamist party with a stated policy of introducing Syariah Law if it ever came into power nationally winning 15 seats for itself in the most developed state in the country. It is currently calling the shots in the process of determining who the Menteri Besar of Selangor will be despite the fact that the multi-racial Parti Keadilan Rakyat and DAP together won 29 seats in the state legislative assembly in the last general election.

Najib and Merdeka

The Muslim-Christian divide is threatening to escalate to untold proportions with dialogue almost non-existent between the Muslims and Christians who form less than 10 per cent of the population. Some have tried arguing that there may be a semblance of racial and religious communities being at each others’ throats and that the ones threatening peace and order represent only a small segment of society.

Perpetual efforts are made to reinforce the point that the discordant voices do not represent the moderate majority in every community.But if this is the case, where indeed is the voice of the moderate Malaysian?

Where is the coalescing of moderates from the Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other communities in a single entity ready to engage with extremists of all creeds and hues?

All we are seeing are truly small groups of late from the various communities that are trying to speak in one voice as Malaysians but seeming to get nowhere. The mainstream politicians do not seem to want to move from their stated positions, digging in for the long-term with their policies that champion the rights of specific races.

Will there never be a time when we will proudly call ourselves Malaysians irrespective of our religion, race and colour? At the moment the only time probably that we proudly engage as Malaysians is when we are abroad and find strength in an alien society through a common identity.

The other is when out festivals come around and we attend open houses in a show of oneness that is largely scripted by those with power and influence.I am forced  to ask these questions as we approach August 31 as serious thought has to be given to the issue of where we stand as Malaysians.

I fear for the next generation of Malaysians who have never enjoyed the level of conviviality that those born in the 40s, 50s and 60s had with one and another in an era that we may never see again. It is imperative that every Malaysian drum into their children and grandchildren that this is our country and that our actions will dictate where we go in the future as a people.

And so fellow Malaysians, we have to do the right thing now for the future of our nation. Let us be circumspect when we act and speak as our actions and words cannot be truly retracted with damage never truly repaired.That is the nature of things and the sooner we realise this the better.

Happy 57th birthday Malaysia and may you see peace and prosperity always.

Selangor: On deferring to the Sultan in MB saga


August 29, 2014

On deferring to the Sultan in MB saga

by Dr. Kua Kia Soong (08-28-14)@www.themalaysianinsider.com
sultan selangorHRH The Sultan of Selangor

Pakatan Rakyat seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place over the Menteri Besar selection. Whose fault is it? Historians do not have to go very far in time to see how they have found themselves in this quandary. In 2008, Pakatan Rakyat set the precedent by deferring the prerogative of selecting the Menteri Besar to the Sultan. This is evidenced in this commentary I wrote in the online press on March 14, 2008:

MB squabbles: Integrity & Professionalism

“The DAP’s squabble over the choice of MB for Perak and Deputy MB for Selangor exposes a lack of integrity and professionalism…they should simply put forward their candidates before the Sultan for endorsement, as is required in our democratic system. Instead, the DAP leadership has continued with their tedious PAS-phobia posturing and in so doing, have demeaned our parliamentary democracy by passing the buck to the sultans.

“In Selangor, we have seen a situation in which the DAP cannot blame PAS but can only blame itself. The choice of Deputy MB has become the arena of DAP’s intra-party squabble. Such factionalism in the DAP has been hitherto relegated to the gossip columns and the leadership is really showing contempt for the people of Selangor by dragging on the issue of Deputy MB. As in Perak, we have seen the DAP passing the buck to the sultan, who now plays the role of executive ruler instead of a constitutional monarch!”

Principles of a constitutional monarchy

According to one of the most important writers on the subject of constitutional monarchy, Walter Bagehot, the monarchy merely symbolises the unity of the national or in our case, state community; from the point of view of political power, the Sovereign in a constitutional monarchy has only three rights: “the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn”.

Malaysia’s most distinguished jurist, Tun Mohamed Suffian bin Hashim in “An Introduction to the Constitution of Malaysia”, spells out the role of Rulers and Governors as “acting in accordance with advice”:

“A Ruler, though sovereign, has no autocratic powers. A Ruler and similarly a Governor must act in accordance with the advice of the state Executive Council or of a member of the Council (usually the Menteri Besar) acting under the general authority of the Council, except as is otherwise provided by the federal or state constitution…The Ruler or Governor is entitled, at his request, to any information concerning the government of the state which is available to the Executive Council. The Ruler or Governor is not a member of the Executive Council. Members of the Executive Council meet only among themselves, and thereafter the Menteri Besar or the Chief Minister submits the Executive Council’s advice to the Ruler or Governor…”

Nonetheless, a Ruler does have discretionary power in the performance of the following functions including: the appointment of the Menteri Besar; the withholding of consent to a request for the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly; request for a meeting of the Conference of Rulers; any function as Head of the Muslim religion or relating to the custom of the Malays; the appointment of an heir; the appointment of persons to Malay customary ranks, titles, etc., the regulation of royal courts and palaces.

How the soap opera unfolds from here will ultimately depend on how convention has been tempered by the precedent set in 2008 and the wisdom of the Sultan.

* Dr Kua Kia Soong is Suaram adviser.

NOTE:

On Constitutional Monarchy

The rights to be consulted, to encourage and to warn

Walter Bagehot famously wrote in The English Constitution (1867) that the British monarch has three rights: the rights to be consulted, to encourage and to warn.

“To state the matter shortly, the sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights — the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn. And a king of great sense and sagacity would want no others. He would find that his having no others would enable him to use these with singular effect. He would say to his minister: “The responsibility of these measures is upon you. Whatever you think best must be done. Whatever you think best shall have my full and effectual support. But you will observe that for this reason and that reason what you propose to do is bad; for this reason and that reason what you do not propose is better. I do not oppose, it is my duty not to oppose; but observe that I warn.” Supposing the king to be right, and to have what kings often have, the gift of effectual expression, he could not help moving his minister. He might not always turn his course, but he would always trouble his mind.

In the course of a long reign a sagacious king would acquire an experience with which few ministers could contend. The king could say: “Have you referred to the transactions which happened during such and such an administration, I think about fourteen years ago? They afford an instructive example of the bad results which are sure to attend the policy which you propose. You did not at that time take so prominent a part in public life as you now do, and it is possible you do not fully remember all the events. I should recommend you to recur to them, and to discuss them with your older colleagues who took part in them. It is unwise to recommence a policy which so lately worked so ill.” The king would indeed have the advantage which a permanent under-secretary has over his superior the parliamentary secretary — that of having shared in the proceedings of the previous parliamentary secretaries. These proceedings were part of his own life; occupied the best of his thoughts, gave him perhaps anxiety, perhaps pleasure, were commenced in spite of his dissuasion, or were sanctioned by his approval.

The parliamentary secretary vaguely remembers that something was done in the time of some of his predecessors, when he very likely did not know the least or care the least about that sort of public business. He has to begin by learning painfully and imperfectly what the permanent secretary knows by clear and instant memory. No doubt a parliamentary secretary always can, and sometimes does, silence his subordinate by the tacit might of his superior dignity. He says: “I do not think there is much in all that. Many errors were committed at the time you refer to which we need not now discuss.”

A pompous man easily sweeps away the suggestions of those beneath him. But though a minister may so deal with his subordinate, he cannot so deal with his king. The social force of admitted superiority by which he overturned his under-secretary is now not with him, but against him. He has no longer to regard the deferential hints of an acknowledged inferior, but to answer the arguments of a superior to whom he has himself to be respectful. George III in fact knew the forms of public business as well or better than any statesman of his time. If, in addition to his capacity as a man of business and to his industry, he had possessed the higher faculties of a discerning statesman, his influence would have been despotic. The old Constitution of England undoubtedly gave a sort of power to the Crown which our present Constitution does not give. While a majority in parliament was principally purchased by royal patronage, the king was a party to the bargain either with his minister or without his minister. But even under our present constitution a monarch like George III, with high abilities, would possess the greatest influence….

It would be childish to suppose that a conference between a minister and his sovereign can ever be a conference of pure argument. “The divinity which doth hedge a king” may have less sanctity than it had, but it still has much sanctity. No one, or scarcely any one, can argue with a cabinet minister in his own room as well as he would argue with another man in another room. He cannot make his own points as well; he cannot unmake as well the points presented to him. A monarch’s room is worse…. He will not refute the bad arguments of the king as he will refute another man’s bad arguments. He will not state his own best argument effectively and incisively when he knows that the king would not like to hear them. In a nearly balanced argument the king must always have the better, and in politics many most important arguments are nearly balanced. Whenever there was much to be said for the king’s opinion it would have its full weight; whatever was said for the minister’s opinion; would only have a lessened and enfeebled weight.”

To this day, Halsbury’s Laws continues to recognise these rights:

“[The Queen] still has the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn. However, she also has the right to offer, on her own initiative, suggestions and advice to her ministers even when she is obliged in the last resort to accept the formal advice tendered to her.”

 Source : http://cakeofcustom.blogspot.com/2011/07/rights-to-be-consulted-to-encourage-and.html