- the right of Bumiputeras to own 67 per cent the nation’s economic wealth because they form the majority;
- the ISA as being integral to 1 Malaysia;
- the word Allah is exclusive to Muslims.
We must salute Perkasa for having the gumption to be pig-headed (or katak puru-headed if you wish) on issues such as the above.
They are certainly being made at a time when the climate appears cold to their views, with the government talking of the New Economic Model, the ISA possibly being amended and the High Court allowing the Herald to use the word Allah in their publications. Still, climate change doesn’t determine the answer to the RM64,000 question — is Perkasa objectively justified in championing those issues? Let’s deal with each of their stand in turn.
Perkasa’s national economic policy proposal makes for fascinating reading. In effect, they are suggesting that a community is entitled to the national economic pie purely on the basis of their numbers within the nation and without any qualifications.
The problem is that their proposal seems irreconcilable with what the Reid Commission had to say on the issue and wherein they noted that:
“… We found that there are now four matters with regard to which the special position of the Malays is recognised and safeguarded:
1. … Malay reservations of land …
2. … admission to the public services …
3. … permits or licenses for the operation of certain businesses …
4. … scholarships, bursaries and other forms of aid for educational purposes …”
“We found little opposition in any quarter to the continuance of the present system for a time, but there was great opposition in some quarters to any increase of the present preferences and to their being continued for any prolonged period.”
and then recommended that:
“… with the integration of the various communities into a common nationality which we trust will gradually come about, the need for these preferences will gradually disappear. Our recommendations are made on the footing that the Malays should be assured that the present position will continue for a substantial period, but that in due course the present preferences should be reduced and should ultimately cease so that there should then be no discrimination between races and communities.
“We recommend that after 15 years there should be a review of the whole matter …”
In other words, the special position could exist but in a qualified way depending on the subject matter — such as land, education, etc. — and always for a finite term.
Notice what’s missing? Population as a basis to extend or enhance special position is nowhere to be found. So much for that.
Let’s now move on to Perkasa’s other notion, i.e. that ISA is integral to 1 Malaysia. This was premised on a number of subsidiary grounds and which are as follows:
- ISA is crucial in safeguarding the “social contract” between the races;
- the country is not a melting pot of different cultures but a salad bowl fragile to sensitive issues;
- ISA is needed to protect Islam and the Muslim culture.
Simply put, the ISA is a legislative mechanism to detain someone without a trial. Typically, a detention under ISA occurs like this:
A police officer knocks on your door at 2am and tells you that you are being arrested under the ISA because you are involved with activities which threatened and which were detrimental to national security.
A document is then issued, which says that the detention is premised on 2 grounds:
- a police officer believes there are grounds to detain you under the relevant section in the ISA; and,
- the police officer believes that you have acted in a manner which is detrimental to the security of Malaysia.
And, voila, your 60 day detention begins.
Around the 60th day, another document is issued where you are detained for a further two year period because a minister thinks you might be a threat to national security.
At both points where the detention occurs, no trial takes place, a mantra was repeated ad nauseam and no evidence was presented to be tested in a court of law.
To put it another way, the accused was detained because someone had arbitrarily decided that he was a threat. Arbitrary because the mantra of “threat to national security”, taken by itself, can never amount to a valid reason for detention. Yet, Perkasa believes that such arbitrary detentions will further the cause of 1 Malaysia.
More than that, Perkasa appears oblivious to the fact that the ISA was only intended to be utilised solely against communist-terrorists and not against legitimate opposition or to silence lawful dissent. So, save and unless the Malayan Communist Party is still in existence, bent on unravelling the “social contract”, race relations and Islam as well as Muslim culture, Perkasa does not appear to have a leg to stand on vis-a-vis this issue.
Lastly, there is the not so small matter of the intellectual property to the word Allah. Perkasa contends it is exclusive to Muslims. I have written extensively on this matter previously and do not intend to belabour the points made in my earlier article. Suffice to say, a number of Muslims scholars who base their opinions on Quranic verses would beg to differ with Perkasa on this score.
Still, like I said when I began this article, Perkasa is an interesting NGO and I maintain this view for a number of reasons. On the one hand, we should laud the fact that they are trying to present their worldview in relatively civilised fashion. On the other, it also provides us with a suitable opportunity to assess what exactly is the barometer of public sentiment on the issues in question.
If, for example, the absence of the Malay heads of government linked companies is anything to go by, their parochial calls do not appear to be persuading one and all. If nothing else, they provide the perfect foil for those opposed their worldview to present their ideas and their solutions in combating racial-religious issues which perennially bedevil this nation. May the best worldview win.
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