The Malaysian Concord (Part 3) – The Malay and Bumiputera Special Rights

Recent protest against ICERD – Bernama

One of the functions and roles of the Malay Rulers is to safeguard the interests of the Malay and Bumiputera communities enshrined in the Federal Constitution.  That is what HRH The Sultan of Selangor did when he voiced out against ICERD and liberalism.

In the previous posts (The Malaysian Concord (Part 1) – The Sanctity of Islam and The Malaysian Concord (Part 2) – The National Language) I have shown you why Islam was made the religion of the Federation, and why the Malay language was made into the National Language.  I also explained why the Reid Commission was just a commission and not a party to the discussions and negotiations to the independence of Malaya and whatever put forth by the commission were recommendations for the Constitution, not the hard-and-fast rule.

The Malay precedence had always been the mantle of the British Residents.  Frank Athelstane Swettenham, the first Resident-General of the Federated Malay States, saw himself as the patron to an heir (the Malays) who was in danger of losing his inheritance to the immigrant Chinese and Tamils.  He wrote:

“The position he occupies in the body politic is that of the heir to the inheritance. The land is Malaya and he is the Malay. Let the infidel Chinese and evil-smelling Hindu from southern India toil, but of their work let some profit come to him.” (Sir Frank Swettenham, The Real Malay (London, 1899): pp. 37-40)

The economic situation of the Malays, pushed to the hinterland by the immigrants, became dire that they had to take loans from the chettiars putting their land as collateral.  When even the interest could not be serviced, these lands were taken into possession by the moneylenders.

The Federated Malay States government intervened and introduced a series of legislations to curb the Chettiars’ operations, one of which was the Malay Reservations Enactment, 1913, which objective was “to provide means for preventing the passing of Malay landholdings into the possession of foreigners”(Frederick Belfield, Legal Adviser, FMS, Report for the Secretary of State on the FMS Enactment 15 of 1913).

In 1910, E.W Birch, the 8thResident of Perak, noted the need for such Enactment:

“It will mean that we shall free our peasantry from the clutches of those people who now remit to India the large sums of which they now bleed the people.”(Hastings Rhodes, Objects and Reasons, Malay Reservations Enactment of 1913, quoting a Minute by E.W Birch dated 7 September 1910; in Selangor Secretariat, File 3013/1912, Conf. File 10/1912).

Two constitutional changes were introduced in 1909, the establishment of a Federal Council, and the enactment to change the title Resident-Generalin the FMS to that of Chief Secretary.

The Governor responsible for these introductions, Sir John Anderson, said that the intention of these changes, in his words, was for“the full safeguarding of Malay interests.” (Proceedings of the Federal Council, FMS, 11 December 1909).

Sir Laurence Guillemard, High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States wrote:

“The moral is clear that real danger lies ahead if the Malays do not get their share of the benefit of the development of their own country.”(C.O 273, Vol 539, Laurence Guillemard to Secretary of State, 3 May 1927).

To put things in perspective, not only were the Malays left out economically, they were also already minorities in the Federated Malay States.  According to the census of 1931, the population of the FMS comprised of a Chinese majority (41.5 percent), followed by Malays (34.7 percent), Indians (22.2 percent) while various other ethnic groups made up the remaining 1.6 percent (Loh Fook Seng, Malay Precendence and the Federal Formula in the Federated Malay States, 1909 to 1939, JMBRAS, Vol 45, 1972: p.48).

When the discussions for the independence of Malaya took place, the MCA which represented the interests of the Chinese community in Malaya, agreed for the continuation of Malay special privileges that was already being enjoyed by the Malays under the Federation of Malaya Agreement of 1948 (Straits Times, 28 August 1956).

Even on the issue of making Mandarin a national language at par with Bahasa Melayu, the MCA Central Committee which debated the Alliance memorandum to the Reid Commission put the issue to a vote: 15 votes were against the recommendation that Mandarin be recognised as an official language, 14 voted for, 31 abstained (Straits Times, 28 August 1956).

Reid Commission was required by its terms of reference to “safeguard the special position of the Malays and the legitimate interests of the other communities” (CO 889/6, C.C. 2000/15, Summary record of Commission’s meeting, 27 August 1956).

The Constitutional Bill was then debated in the England’s House of Commons.  Three amendments to the Bill was sought.  The third proposed amendment pushed by Conservative MP Joan Vickers (Devonport) noted that the 15-year limit for Malay special rights recommended in the Reid Report was omitted from the Bill.

However, the majority felt that any eleventh-hour amendment could upset the political compromises embodied in the Constitution (Commons Debates, 19 July 1957, pp. 1590-1591).  The Secretary of State concluded that any accepting of proposed amendments would result in the reopening of all issues on which agreement had already been reached (Ibid., pp. 1592-1594).  Therefore, all the proposed amendments were rejected and the Federal Constitution of Malaya, as part of the Malayan Independence Bill, was adopted unchanged.

These special rights were then extended to the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak through Paragraph 62 of the Malaysia Agreement, 9 July 1963, pages 43 and 44. But this did not come easy.  Many non-Bumiputera groups were opposed to the idea of according the natives of Sarawak with special rights.

A group from the Sarawak United People’s Party led by Ong Kee Hui had a contempt for the backwardness of the natives and had regarded their leaders as men of no consequences.  This prompted the SUPP’s leader in Sibu Jonathan Bangau, an Iban, to resign.

The Ibans, however, told the Cobbold Commission that they were all for Malaysia and some even emphasised on the need for a speedy arrival of better education and development for the Iban community.  In North Borneo, the only negative views were given by the British officials and expatriates as well as the rich (non-Bumiputera) local businessmen.

Both Donald Stephens (Chairman of the Committee of the North Borneo Alliance) and Stephen Kalong Ningkan (Secretary-General of the Sarawak Alliance) both accepted the Inter-Governmental Committee report.  Sarawak Council Negri voted unanimously to adopt the report on 8 March 1963, while the North Borneo Legislative Council unanimously adopted the report on 13 March 1963.

The special rights of the Malays and the Bumiputeras are there to protect their interests so that they do not get swallowed whole in their own land.  The Fijians learnt this the hard way when the Indo-Fijian (Indian descent) minority which numbered less than 40 percent of the population, dominated everything from government to economy, leaving the ethnic Fijians on the sideline.

If the rights of the Malays and the Bumiputeras that was agreed upon by our forefathers are now being questioned, should they now not ask for a better position for themselves? Perhaps a 70-percent equity and quota in everything from now on, or something even better?

(This article was first published on The Mole)

It Is Okay Being Racist If You Are A Minority

It is called “reverse racism” and among the ways it works is by making racist remarks against the majority claiming it is a reaction against oppression.

Yesterday I received a WhatsApp message that has been making its way around on the Internet purportedly sent by DAP’s people:

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Forgive me for getting technical with this but I have to endeavour to make people understand the background of this nation to understand the current situation we are in. I cannot possibly answer all the allegations above as I do not work for the government therefore I do not have all the data needed but I shall make references to publicly-available documents.

The Malay States were rich with tin and land for rubber plantations.  This led to the signing of treaties to enable the British to have a share of the wealth and the creation of British protectorates of the Federated Malay States (formed in 1895 with common institutions such as the State Constitution, and a Resident-General administering the states on behalf of, and answerable to the Sultans and Yam DiPertuan Besar as his salary was paid by them) and the Unfederated Malay States (C.D Cowan, 1961; Emily Sadka, 1968; Eunice Thio, 1969).

The economy was divided into two systems – tin mining and rubber plantations dominated by the Chinese, and peasant farming and inshore fishing conducted by the Malays (M Yusof Saari, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia; Erik Dietzenbacher and Bart Los, Univeristy of Groningen, The Netherlands – World Development, Volume 76, December 2015, pp. 311-328).

With the expansion of mining and rubber lands, the Malays got pushed back to the edges of primary forests, and away from economic wealth that both the Chinese and Indians were enjoying.

EW Birch, the 8th British Resident of Perak, recognized this dire situation and quickly proposed a policy of preserving the Malay land. The only way to him to preserve the Malay race was to “free them from the clutches of those people who now remit to Indian large sums of money, which they bleed from the (Malay) people.”

This later became the Malay Reservation Land Act which spirit is preserved in the Malaysian Federal Constitution. Even Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham conceded that something had to be done to preserve the Malays. He wrote:

“In the Malay sketches contained in this and a previous volume, I have endeavoured to portray,…the Malay as he is in own country, against his own picturesque and fascinating background…The position he occupies in the body politic is that of the heir to the inheritance. The land is Malaya and he is the Malay. Let the infidel Chinese and evil-smelling Hindu from southern India toil, but of their work let some profit come to him.”

The Chinese and Indians brought over by the British were British subjects as far as the colonised parts of Malaya were (Pulau Pinang, Melaka and Singapore).  However, the ones in the Malay States were disinclined to give allegiance to the respective Sultans as they pledged allegiance to their homeland.

In 1911, the Malays made up 53% of the population. By 1931, they were already outnumbered and in 1941 formed only 41% of the population.  The Chinese community was at 43%, displacing the Malays as the dominant racial group. The Malays were in a disadvantageous position and this proved explosive in 1946 during the Bekor tragedy.  The Malays remained as the minority until 1970.

And if you think the Malays have done well since then, the table below will show that despite the NEP being in place, the income of the Chinese grew tremendously as compared to the Malays (M Yusof Saari, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia; Erik Dietzenbacher and Bart Los, Univeristy of Groningen, The Netherlands – World Development, Volume 76, December 2015, pp. 311-328):

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Allegation 1 – Of the Top 5 Banks, Only One is Non-Malay

The top five banks are Malayan Banking, CIMB, Public Bank, RHB Capital, and Hong Leong Financial Group.

If you see who the top 30 shareholders of Maybank are, you would see that they are mostly government investment agencies, or nominees especially by Citigroup. Citigroup is NOT Malay.  However, you would see that at Number 28, a private individual is an individual shareholder.  He is NOT Malay.

The top shareholders of CIMB as of 30 June 2015, are Khazanah Nasional – 29.34 %, Employees Provident Fund (EPF) – 17.51 %, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) – 3.61 % and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group – 4.61 %.

Public Bank, although third in the list, was the second largest bank in Malaysia by market capitalisation in September 2016.  Its major shareholder is Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Teh Hong Piow, who has a 23.79% stake in the bank as of 26 January 2016. Teh is also the bank’s founder and chairman. He is NOT Malay.

I can skip and go on to Hong Leong Financial group if you want to see the shareholding information.

Allegation 2 – 99% of PETRONAS Directors Are Malays

The DAP and Pakatan are famous for plucking numbers from the sky.

Two of 16 directors of PETRONAS are non-Malays so that makes 12.5%.  Therefore, only 87.5% are Malays. Now look at their respective background and tell me of they are not qualified to be there.

PETRONAS is a government-owned company. It is not an Ah Beng Enterprise (no reference to Lim Guan Beng) and the board is answerable to the Government on all matters.

Allegation 5 – 100% PETRONAS Contractors Are Bumiputeras

Bumi Armada is one of the largest suppliers of offshore support vessels, Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) units, Floating Gas Solutions (FLNG/FSRU/FSU) to PETRONAS. It is an Ananda Krishnan company. Ananda Krishnan is NOT Malay.

Allegation 6 – Chinese Companies Must Have 30% Bumiputera Employees; Malay Companies Can Have 0% Chinese

Again, this is very racist and a blatant lie.

There is NO legal requirement that companies have to employ 30% Bumiputera.  Otherwise you will not get these racist advertisements:

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You are only required to show your Bumiputera equity be it 30%, 51% or 100% if you are tendering for a Bumiputera-open or Bumiputera-limited contracts.  That is EQUITY, not employees.

In reality too, most “Bumiputera” companies that tender for government contracts are actually Chinese-run companies that use Malay names on the license and application forms.  Malays are given 30% allocation while non-Malays have 70% but even the 30% has non-Malay participations.

They always claim that they are the “second-class” citizens of this country yet they are the ones who control the economy.

Do you think if policies are not in place they would care for the Bumiputeras?

And by saying Bumiputera, I mean the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak who are economically second-class citizens in their own land as the Chinese are the ones who dominate the economy there.

Allegations 7-10: Minimum Participation of Non-Malays in Government Sector

In 2014, the Royal Malaysian Police had had to lower the entry requirements to cater for the non-Malays – all they need to do is PASS the Bahasa Malaysia subject in their SPM exams.

Even that they cannot do.

In 2016, out of a force of 90,000, Indians made up 3.3% of the total while Chinese 1.77%. In 2016, the Royal Malaysia Air Force the non-Bumiputeras number about 5% of the total 15,000.

This is not due to the pay offered.  I don’t think they are interested to serve a Malay-majority government.

Allegation 13 – Kedah Chinese Rice Farmers Have To Sell To Malay-owned BERNAS

BERNAS is a company that regulates the supply and price of rice in Malaysia to deny millers exorbitant profit at the expense of end users.

BERNAS’s top 30 share holders in 2012 are as follows.  Note the solo individual top shareholder.  Again, he is NOT Malay.

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Allegations 19-22: Malay Schools versus Non-Malay Schools

First – THERE ARE NO “MALAY SCHOOLS.”  They are the National Schools where all children are supposed to go to, mix, learn and grow up together.  Most Chinese or Tamil schools are private schools and are self-funded.  That is why we see only a small chunk of the budget go towards the latter two.

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Now if we go back to the first paragraph of the WhatsApp message that I received, it is mentioned that the Malaysian government practices racial discrimination, yet the baseless allegations made that I am familiar with have been shot down.

We have seen also that because of their weakness in their command of the Bahasa Malaysia, a language they are supposed to have mastered after 60 years, they have failed to join the public sector. This is due to the fact that they refuse to learn anything that is not taught in their mother tongue.

They would rather that their children do not grow up with the children of the Malays or learn to speak the language that has always been the language of this land and is enshrined in the Federal Constitution as the language of the nation.

So who is it that wants segragation? Who is being racist?

NOT the Malays.

As for those who migrated from Malaysia, those are the free-riders with no loyalty whatsoever to the nation.  When the going gets tough, leave for seemingly easier life.  For those people, loyalty lies in the pocket.

If this government is being racist do you think that there would be vernacular schools? Do you think DAP’s Chen Man Hin would have made RM790 million from a government company?

So who is being racist here?  Obviously DAP itself.  Out of the 30 Central Executive Committee members there are only four Indians/Indian diaspora. one Malay and two Sabah/Sarawak Bumiputera.

Again, the rest are NOT Malays.