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LAW 016

Introduction to Malaysian System of Government and

Title of Assignment:
Article 153 of the Federal Constitution is Prejudicial to National Unity and
Integration: The Approach and Policy to Overcome the Obstacles and


Muhammad Hafiz Bin Awang Satiah (2015869048)

Ahmad Amin Musyrif Bin Ramli (2015828078)
Kamarul Azim Muhaimi Bin Kamarulddaman (2015898554)
Muhamad Nazreen Bin Mohd Hanafiah (2015865594)

Group: PI005 1A
Date of Submission: 25th of September 2015
Lecturer: Madam Farah Haneem Bin Ahmad Jamal

Introduction : Article 153 vs Common Perception

Article 153 is one of the most controversial articles written in the Federal
Constitution (FC) and to be said towards prejudicial to national unity and integration.
58th years after Independence, racial issues continue to monopolise national
interests. Various of terms such as Malay 'special rights', Malay 'special privileges',
always give a different interpretation with the Constitution itself.
Instead, such as Malay 'special rights', Malay 'special privileges' or Malay 'rights' are
nowhere to be found. But only 'the special position of the Malays', which appears
twice, in Clause (1) and Clause (2) of Article 153. Some of the misinterpretation is
the provisions favouring Malays and protect the supremacy of Malay.
The truth is there are some of the provisions protecting the non-Malays as a counterbalance to the special position of the Malays under this Article. In fact, we have to
read this article to conjunction with Article 8 (Equality) and Article 136 (Impartial
treatment of Federal employees), Article 153 cannot be regarded as the Ketuanan
Melayu only which is summoned to be common perception.
'It shall be the responsibility of the Yang di Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special
position of the Malays and the legitimate interests of other communities in
accordance with the provisions of this Article'. This is stated in Clause (1) of Article
153 which is meant to protect the interests of not only the Malays, but also those of
the other races.
Clause (2) says that the Yang di Pertuan Agong shall safeguard the special position
of the Malays by reserving positions 'of such proportion as he may deem

Clauses (3) and (6) say that the Yang di Pertuan Agong may, for purpose of fulfilling
Clause (2), give general directions to the relevant authorities, which shall then duly
There is a separate clause covering the allocation of seats in tertiary education
Clause (8A). It says that where there are insufficient places for any particular course
of study, the Yang di Pertuan Agong may give directions for the '... reservation of
such proportion of such places for Malays as the Yang di Pertuan Agong may deem
reasonable; and the authority shall duly comply with the directions'.
Clause (5) consists of one sentence, which reads: 'This Article does not derogate
from the provisions of Article 136'.
Article 136 also consists of one sentence, which reads: 'All persons of whatever race
in the same grade in the service of the Federation shall, subject to the terms and
conditions of their employment, be treated impartially.'
Clause (9) consists of one sentence, which reads: 'Nothing in this Article shall
empower Parliament to restrict business or trade solely for the purpose of
reservations for Malays.
In conclusion, we believe that in term of Article 153 is go against the national unity
and integration or not is solely depends on how people interpret and read the Article
153 of FC. It is obvious to say that the common perception pertaining to Article 153
or popularly known as Ketuanan Melayu are misleading and the fault lies not with
our Constitution but with our people twisting, misinterpreting and abusing it. In this
assignment ,we divided the discussion into three parts : the introduction and

common perception, the national unity and integration and the approach and policy
to Overcome the Obstacles and Challenges

Article 153 on National Unity and Integration: What is

National Integration
National integration can be identified as national unity or national consensus.It
can be interpret as the establishment of national political system replacement
or incorporates all regional sub systems. National unity is a procedure to unite
various groups that have different social and cultural background into one
physical entity. The effort of uniting Sabah, Sarawak and the Peninsular of
Malaysia into a federation is one of the examples to achieve national unity.

The Approach and Policy to Overcome the Obstacles

and Challenges : The approach to overcome the disunity of
national and people via Integration
1. The Political Integration
The national ideology had been introduced by the government as one of the
political approaches. The National Consultative Council created this ideology after
the racial riot of 13 May 1969 at the time the country was ruled by MAGERAN. It was
declared as national ideology on 31st August 1970. Its goal is to inculcate a common
spirit and identity among the people and to strengthen the unity among the people.
There are five principles of national ideology which is belief in God, loyalty to King

and country, nobleness of the constitution, sovereignty of law and courtesy and
decency. Roughly, the objectives of the national ideology are to achieve greater unity
among the people, to maintain democratic way of life, to create a just society, to
ensure a liberal attitude towards the rich and variety of cultural traditions and to build
a society that is progressive in science and technology.
On top of that, there are many political attempts as government efforts in
handling the problem of weakness in unity. Among political measures taken are
actions through the legislative system, where laws and acts are made by Parliament
to solving the problems that is related to unity. Firstly, there are a few number of
clauses oriented towards racial equality such as allocations that provide protection to
certain communities in the Constitution. The Article 153 which is related to the
special rights of the Malay is one the examples that can be shown. Secondly, the
acts passed by Parliament safeguard understanding among the races. Among them
is Seditions act 1948/Incitement act 1948 aimed at preventing an individual from
raising sensitive issues. Some matters that are not allowed to be questioned are the
position of Malay as national language, the position of Malay rulers, the special rights
of Bumiputra and the citizenship of non Bumiputra. Moreover, the Alliance which is
Barisan Nasional (BN) today is a party into one bigger multiracial organization.
2. Social Integration
NCP( National Culture Policy) is a social approach towards the national integration
and was introduced in 1971. Any universal and positive elements from other cultures
which are suitable and contribute towards unity may be adopted into the NCP. The
NCP was introduced to unite every single person and race in Malaysia. In the same

time, the people will literally know the truth about article 153 in federal constitution,
so that there will be no misunderstanding upon this provision.
Since independence, many educational reports have been implemented in
order to unite and integrate the people. It is important to know that there were no
clear educational policy exist during the time of British Colonial. The education was
separated between races so that people will not achieve unity. They separated the
education between the Malays, Chinese and Indian. They do not want Malaysians to
unite because they thought that the people would go against them.
After Japanese was defeated during World War II, the British came back to
rule our country, but fortunately, our local leader put onto them the pressure to
uniformity of education system for the Tanah Melayu people.
On 1956, Razak Report 1956 was formed. The committee was headed by
Dato Abdul Razak Hussein, Minister of Education at that time. The proposal
prepared are, they should be one education system only. Besides, Malay language is
made the national language and the medium of instruction in education. Next, Malay
and English language to be made compulsory for all primary school and secondary
schools. In addition, for national-type schools that is English, Chinese and Tamil
languages to be the medium of instruction. And lst but not least is to establish one
type of school opened to all races.
These report was then strengthen by Rahman Talib Report 1961 to increase
the unity of all races. It stated that there should be two types of school national
schools and national type school, Malay language to replace English as the medium
of instruction in all primary schools. Lastly, Chinese and Tamil should be taught
should be there at least 15 pupils or parents requests it.

Finally in 1970, Bahasa Melayu became the medium instructions in

Peninsular Malaysia which replaced English language. Then, it was extended to
Sabah and Sarawak in 1976. Until today, there is a single national education system
in this country.
Mahathir Report was introduced in 1985 in order to make sure that the
existing education satisfied the countrys goal.
We can see that the leader of Malaysia did not discriminate any races in this
country as they introduce the SJK(C) and SJK(I) so that social integration can be
achieved. We can conclude that Malay Language promote unity of each race in
3. The Economic Integration
The government of Malaysia introduced Dasar Ekonomi Baru (NEP) after
the racial riot that happened on the 13th of May, 1969. The introduction of this
policy was to address the poverty crisis that plagued the country. This is an
affirmative action, a form of a positive discrimination. It was adopted in the year
1971, for a period of 20 years and later was succeeded by the new Dasar
Pembangunan Negara in 1991. The policy called for aggressive improvement in
the economy of the country and also the quality of life of all Malaysians. It seeks
to address the matter through implementing of improvements in the sectors of
access to land, physical capital, training and also public facilities.
During the British colonisation period, the economy of the land were
separated. The Malays were more into traditional economy, which involves mainly
hunting, farming and fishing. The traditional economy was more focused on

sustaining their own lives and not for profit-making purposes. However, the
Chinese and the British were more focused in exploiting the lands resources for
profit. As the result, the Malays were somehow left behind and at a disadvantage
in the development of the lands economy. They were not given the platform to
develop due to the uneven focus provided by the British, and therefore the
economy was manipulated by foreigners.
In the early stages of the establishment of Malaysia, the poverty rates of
the Malays were extremely high (65%). This were one of the factors that lead to
the racial riot of 1969. The Chinese controlled about 34% of the countrys
economy and due to that, the Malays felt that they were not mono-raced
community (in the top strata in economic hierarchy). This issue of uneven
distribution of economy had turned into a racial crisis, which is a very unpleasant
situation due to the fact that Malaysia consists of a number of different races
grouped as one.
After the riot, the government felt that they need to do something to
regarding the matter. So as stated earlier, NEP was introduced, to bring
disadvantaged groups into a higher degree of participation in the development of
the economy. In a subtle manner, the introduction of this policy was also to
improve the relationship between races, in the country. The main goal of NEP
was to bring the Bumiputeras, a 30% of share of the economy and to help reduce
poverty primarily by encouraging them to be involved in businesses. Through
NEP, Bumiputeras are given priority and special privileges in some areas as to
make sure there is uniformity in the development of the country. Referring back to
the interpretation of Article 153, even though there some critics and cynic
comment on implantation of NEP, but it is also important to know that the

establishment of NEP was not only focused on the Bumiputeras as the

implementation of the policy involves every citizen of the country, regardless of
race and gender. The mentioning of Bumiputeras as the disadvantaged group
was not intended to be racist, but to point out that this group needs more
encouragement in order for them to be competitive with the other races in the
country. What had caused this problem initially was because of the unevenness
of focus given by the British in the field of economy, where the Bumiputeras were
left out of the economic progression where this can also be used as an evidence
that this group were at a disadvantage.
In a conclusion, the establishment of NEP was not to deny the rights of other
races, but to develop all of the races in the country uniformly by giving them the
opportunity. Perceptions saying that the policies made by the government as only
to discriminate other races can be really dangerous and might affect the
progression of the country. Therefore, it is really important to understand fully,
what the government is trying to do before spreading untrue rumours that will
only lead to the disunity among the races in the country.

Equality before law is one of the greatest of all constitutional ideals. However, in a
world of inherent disparities between the rich and the; the educated and the illiterate,
the privileged and the powerless, the conferment of formal equality does not secure
functional parity.
In Malaysia constitutional protection for Malay privileges was part of the ethnic
bargaining and accommodation hat preceded Merdeka. But Malay privileges were
by no means a novelty of the 1957 Reid Commission Constitution. The treaties
between the British and the Malay Sultans and also clause 19(i)(d) of the Federation
of Malaya Agreement 1948 required the British Commissioner to safeguard the
special position of Malays and the legitimate interests of the other communities
Nevertheless, Article 153(20 does not give an absolute freedom to the executive to
prefer Malays over non-Malays. Affirmative action is allowed only in areas permitted
by the Constitution. Many practices like 10% discount for Bumiputeras on houses
sold by State Economic Development Corporations may well be unconstitutional.
What is significant about Malaysias scheme of affirmative action is that Article 153
are not subject to any time limit as was recommended by the Reid Commission. Yet,
again we have to remember that, Article 153 is not prejudicial to national unity and
integration as we stated earlier. Malaysia is not the only country that empowered
schemes of preferential treatment in order to elevate the status of economic, social
or culturally backward communities or sections of society like women, children,
aborigines, and minorities. Such schemes are referred to by many names positive

discrimination, affirmative action and reverse discrimination. India, Cyprus, America

and Malaysia are prominent examples of countries.
In the end , as Malaysian ,we believe that there is a room for the better
understanding towards constitutional law and everyone should start read the
Constitution instead of twisting and misinterpreting it . We profoundly believe that the
Article 153 is not prejudicial to national unity and integration. Thank you.