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Malaysia Parliament divided on Malay special rights, united on education policy

June 19, 2018

Published 19 June 1965


KUALA LUMPUR – Under Article 153 of the Constitution of Malaysia, the King of Malaysia is responsible and has the prerogative to safeguard the special position of the Malays – such as through establishing quotas for public scholarships.


Following the union of the Federation of Malaya with Singapore two years ago in 1963, the Constitution was amended to recognise and give similar privileges for the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak.


However, the legitimacy of this decision was debated upon in the Malaysian Parliament just today.


D.R. Seenivasagam highlighted that the point should be on empowerment of all races, since the implementation of the Article would imply that Malaysia’s ministers are incapable in ensuring a system of meritocracy.


“More schools should be present in rural areas where the majority of Malays are,” said Syed Hussein Alatas in response to ensuring economic equality.


In addition, Lim Swee Aun proposed the establishment of automobile companies in rural areas so as to allow for economic redistribution.


However, Khir Johan felt that apart from policies, a “racial harmony accepted by the masses” should be established.


During the second half of council, there a moderated caucus on education was held.


D.R. Seenivasagam highlighted that education for all is the priority, thereby sharing the views held earlier by Syed Hussein Alatas.


In response, Lim Swee Aun remarked that it is not true that aid is given only to Bumiputera simply because they are less educated, but rather because “in their rural community, they have job experience for many centuries as farmers.”


Lim Chong Eu affirmed this, stating that “greater education allows for greater mobility to higher paying industries for all, regardless of race.”


Although the council remains united on general issues of education, the special rights of the Malays for education remain yet to be discussed in sufficient detail – which could possibly result in further divide.


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