KUALA LUMPUR, 31 Oct 2008: The ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ (Malay supremacy) concept is a failed model for the government to use to address the real issues confronting the country, said former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.
“The Ketuanan Melayu model has failed. It has resulted in waste of crucial resources, energy and time.
“We have failed miserably in dealing with complex issues of society by resorting to a political culture of promoting fear and division amongst the people,” he said in his speech entitled Malaysia: A Lost Democracy? at the 21st Lawasia Conference here today.
Zaid added that the Ketuanan Melayu doctrine had destroyed the nation’s sense of balance and fairness.
He also called on the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to abandon its reworked concept of the social contract and embrace a fresh perspective from discussions and agreements with all communities.
He said concerns among the Malays of being outnumbered were baseless as they were clearly the majority in the country.
“The institutions of government are such that the Malays are effectively represented, and there is no way the interest of the Malays can be taken away other than through their own weakness and folly.
“It is time for us all to practise a more transparent and egalitarian form of democracy and to recognise and respect the rights and dignity of all the citizens of this country,” he said.
Zaid, who resigned as minister on 17 Sept in protest of the government’s use the Internal Security Act (ISA) on people he did not think were a threat to national security, said nation building was not a simple process.
He said it could not be achieved through tinkering with political ideologies or injudicious use of the coercive powers of state.
He said for the nation to achieve the status of Bangsa Malaysia, one of the nine challenges of Vision 2020 set by ex-premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the country must first practise the rule of law.
“We need the openness, freedom and social justice that will be possible only with it in place and democracy.
“How do we bring unity to the people if we are not prepared to respect their dignity?” asked Zaid.
He also said the government should realise that it should not resort to using aggression to resolve conflicts as violence begets violence, such as the detention of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders under the ISA.
He called for the release of the Hindraf leaders as it “would create a window for constructive dialogue on underlying causes of resentment”.
He also appealed for the release of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin from his ISA detention as he championed for free speech.
“His writings, no matter how offensive they may be to some, cannot by any stretch of the imagination be seen as a threat to the national security of this country,” said Zaid .
Raja Petra was arrested on 12 Sept, along with Seputeh Member of parliament Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng. Both Kok and Tan were later released.