Straits Times (Used by permission)
by Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahmand for Malay National Consultative Council
I REFER to the letter on Article 153 of the Federal Constitution by Raja Aziz Addruse and Helen Ting ("Our aim was to stimulate discussion" –– NST, July 18).
I am glad to note their assurance that they are not
questioning Article 153.
However, their line of reasoning in their earlier article appeared to be focusing on the life span of Article 153.
I do not intend to go into the complication of analysing what some politicians or what Tun Dr Ismail purportedly said.
I appreciate the effort of Raja Aziz and Helen Ting in getting information from the archives and other sources.
Records show that many people expressed their views on the
issue of the special position of the Malays at the 118 public and private
hearings held by the Reid Commission.
When the commission made its recommendations and submitted a draft constitution which provided for, among others, the continuation of the historical provisions of the special position of the Malays, with the qualification that such provisions should be reviewed after 15 years, there was an uproar.
Umno rejected outright the proposal for the review of Article 153 after 15 years.
As a result a tripartite working party was appointed to examine the Reid Commission's Report.
There were four representatives of the Malay rulers, four from the Alliance Party and four from the British government on the working committee.
The working party removed the 15–year limit on the special position of the Malays and Article 153 was made an integral and entrenched part of the Federal Constitution.
I think this evidence is more than sufficient to justify the contention that Article 153 was intended for the long term.
Subsequent actions taken by the government in consequence of the May 13, 1969 riots were for the purpose of ensuring that the special position of the Malays would not be questioned.
It should be noted that after the acceptance of the Tripartite Working Party Report, there followed a lengthy process of ratification of the Merdeka Constitution by the Federal Legislative Council in July 1957, the assemblies of the Malay states, the United Kingdom Parliament and the British Crown.
If we really need to consider what relevant people had said at the relevant deliberations, in relation to the drafting of the constitution, then surely we should also know what people had said at the 118 hearings, at the Tripartite Working Party's meetings and also at the Federal Legislative Council in July 1957 and not just confine it to what three or four politicians said.