Dr M has no basis to say promoting multi-cultural M'sia unconstitutional - Lawyers

05 Jul 2023 03:38pm
Dr Mahathir - FILE PIX
Dr Mahathir - FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was wrong when claiming that promoting a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Malaysia is unconstitutional.

Lawyer Christopher Leong said there are provisions in the Federal Constitution that protect, hence promote other religions, ethnicities and cultures.

"For example, there is Article 3 (1) of the Federal Constitution on freedom of practice of other religions and Article 8 which states that all people are equal in front of the law and are entitled to equal protection.

"Malaysia's multiethnic, multicultural, multireligious, multilingual society is one of its blessings and there is no basis to say that such blessing, wealth and beauty are unconstitutional,” said former president of the Malaysian Bar, when contacted by Bernama today.

Bar Council constitutional law committee co-chair Andrew Khoo shared the same view, saying that the Federal Constitution clearly promoted multiracialism.

"I’m not sure what constitution Tun Dr Mahathir is reading when he says that promoting a multiethnic Malaysia is unconstitutional,” he said.

Khoo said apart from those stated in Article 3, 5, 8 and 11, Article 153 of the Constitution also places the Malays of Semenanjung and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak in a special position in relation to other races, in order to achieve a fair and equitable balance in education, employment and enterprise,” he said.

"If we looked at the definition of natives of Sabah and Sarawak in the Federal Constitution, it is also clear that they encompass many different ethnicities.

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"I am genuinely saddened to read media reports of what Dr Mahathir is reported to have said. If the reports are accurate, then he is contradicting himself," he said.

According to Khoo, Dr Mahathir had said in August 1996 when opening the Second World Fujian Convention and Malaysia-Fujian Investment and Trade Exhibition in Langkawi, that "Malaysians are justly proud their country is a genuinely multiracial nation”.

"Again, in February 2019, Dr Mahathir spoke in a Chinese New Year video distributed by the Prime Minister’s Office where he reminded Malaysians not to take lightly the nurturing of the relationship among the multiracial, multi-religious and multi-cultural community, saying it is something not easy to preserve,” he said.

Khoo said Dr Mahathir's posting might encourage and embolden racial and religious extremist and supremacist groups in this country, which will result in increased racial disharmony and disunity.

"A racially disunited country with heavily politicised racial extremist and supremacist groups may discourage and deter inward foreign direct investment, leading to less economic development and less employment opportunities. This in turn will make all of us poorer,” he added. - BERNAMA