The preferential treatment dilemma
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How often do we hear this: “Let no one from other races ever question the rights of Malays on this land.” And its counter: “We have every right to be here. We, Chinese and Indians, have helped develop the country to what it is today.” And so it goes.
Indeed, race resonates in Malaysian life. For more than 50 years now, Umno and, lately, the right-wing Malay groups like Perkasa, have reminded non-Malays of their obligations to a “social contract”.
This notional contract emerged from a political necessity by the Malays to share power with the Chinese and Indians in post-independent Malaya. The understanding was that non-Malays would be allowed to stay and work in the country as long as they respected the special position of the Malays as stipulated in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. How did this article come about?