I believe that the notion that non-Malays owe a debt of gratitude to Malays for the granting of citizenship and they in return they should duly recognise that henceforth Malays hold special rights and should not seek equal treatment, is misplaced. In recent times, this misplaced perception has led to the ascendancy of the disturbing and racist Ketuanan Melayu concept.
When the Federation of Malaysia was formed, equal citizenship right was sought to ensure fairness and equality to all races. However, with the granting of citizenship to Chinese and Indians, the Malays feared that their position would be undermined by the perceived aggressive cultural traits and economic superiority of the other races.
As a compromise, the British agreed to certain provisions in the constitution to serve as a safeguard for the Malay position in Malaysia.
The whole intention, therefore, was to create in Malaysia the unique situation of equal citizenship, rights and status for all races but at the same time the preservation of the position and culture of the Malay race.
It was not meant to create a situation of ‘superiority’ or racial dominance of the Malays to ensure that many years from now, in our grandchildren’s and their grandchildren’s time, the ‘Malay-ness’ of Malaysia will not disappear.
Our leaders should therefore be mindful of this balancing act, and not tip the scales in favour of Malay Supremacy, one end which will lead to racial discontent and oppression of the other races, and the other end leading to the erosion of the Malay identity. Keep it somewhere in the middle.
History has shown that the turbulent times in Malaysia occurred when the scales tipped too much towards one end or the other. The turbulent mid to late sixties marked the tipping of scales towards the erosion of the Malay identity side.
The 70s attempted to redress this through the NEP, and this has lead to the tipping of the scales towards the Malay Supremacy end. The watershed 2008 elections is an attempt to redress back the balance.
The question is, after this will the scales be tipped back to the erosion side or the Malay Supremacy side or will our leaders have the foresight to ensure that it stays somewhere in the middle?
I believe that the only time when we were truly a harmonious and balanced society was just after we achieved independence when all the races truly felt united and had a common goal. When this position is achieved once more and maintained, then will Malaysia truly be a harmonious and united nation.