We must highlight “Ketuanan Malaysia” instead of “Ketuanan Melayu” if we are to return to the nation-building principles and policies embedded in the original Constitution and Rukun Negara and as agreed by the nation’s founding fathers if we are not to be left behind in the sands of time
An ethnic Indian may become the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to replace Boris Johnson.
Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is at present the front-runner in a race that has been reduced to four Conservative leaders – one man and three women. One of the women, Kemi Badenock is an ethnic Nigerian.
An ethnic Indian has become the Vice President of the United States, while a former Malaysian Chinese, Penny Wong, has become the Foreign Minister of Australia.
Under the Malaysian Constitution, a Malaysian regardless of race, religion or region, could become Prime Minister, but the political reality is such that I do not see any non-Malay becoming Prime Minister of Malaysia during my lifetime or that of my children.
In my 55 years of political work, the thought of becoming Prime Minister of Malaysia had never entered my mind. I am also on public record as saying that although the Malaysian Constitution provides that any Malaysian can be a Prime Minister, I do not see any non-Malay becoming Prime Minister of Malaysia during my lifetime.
In the United States, a black man Barack Obama became the President of the United States – but this took place some 230 years after the establishment of the United States in 1776.
I hope that Malaysia would not need 230 years before a non-Malay can become Prime Minister, but I do not expect a non-Malay to become Prime Minister in the 21st century, but whether there will be a non-Malay Prime Minister in the 22nd or 23rd century will depend on whether the politics of identity will continue to be so primordial and elemental as a political force in the Malaysian political landscape as today.
If such a question whether a non-Malay can become Prime Minister of Malaysia is asked 60 years ago, the nation’s founders like Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Dr. Ismail, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tun V.T. Sambanthan would unhesitatingly answered in the positive as there is no constitutional bar – which was separate from the question of whether it was likely to happen.
But today, there are political leaders who openly say that a non-Malay cannot be a Prime Minister of Malaysia because of the concept of “ketuanan Melayu”, which was popularized in 1986 and after.
This is one strong reason why Malaysia is losing out to other countries, like Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and likely to lose to more countries in coming years and decades, including Indonesia and China.
We must highlight “Ketuanan Malaysia” instead of “Ketuanan Melayu” if we are to return to the nation-building principles and policies embedded in the original Constitution and Rukun Negara as agreed by the nation’s founding fathers if we are not to be left behind in the sands of time in the coming years and decades.