Malay or not, main focus of Prime Minister should be on Malaysia and its people

22 Sep 2023 10:45am
Photo for illustrative purposes. BERNAMA PHOTO
Photo for illustrative purposes. BERNAMA PHOTO

SHAH ALAM - The recent shift in perception towards people of various races taking on top posts in a country is reminiscent of the United States' milestone with its first African-American president, Barrack Obama.

Is it now Malaysia's turn to emulate this progress and appoint individuals based on merit, regardless of their racial background, to lead the nation?

In the recent special collaboration podcast, "From Malaya to Malaysia: 60 Years," episode Political & Economic Dynamics by Sinar Daily in collaboration with Bual Studio and Reka Sounds, which delves into Malaysia's developmental history, highlights the progress made while also addressing areas that still require further improvement.

The recent podcast featured Universiti Malaya Asia Europe distinguished Professor of Economics Dr Rajah Rasiah and International Islamic Universiti Malaysia Political Science Department Chief Dr Syaza Shukri.

Rajah addressed the concept of prioritising other races for Malaysia's top leadership position, emphasising that colour should not be a determining factor for the prime minister, akin to how perspectives on women's roles should be based on their individual aspirations.

He also expressed the view that it was acceptable for Malays to continue holding the position of prime minister.

“The colour of a person as prime minister doesn't matter. Just like how they see women in power and assume they only push for their own interests.

"Having an Indian prime minister every term is not the main point here. There’s no problem; to me, it’s perfectly fine to have Malays as prime minister all the time. What’s wrong with that as long as they are thinking about Malaysia and building Malaysia?" he said.

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Meanwhile, Syaza expressed that it was timely for Malaysia to experience change to reflect progress and current times when it comes to the skin colour of the country's top leadership post.

Neither disagreeing or echoing Rajah, she stated it was no longer time to be idle and wait for change within the next 200 years like what happened in US in electing a non-white President or make comparisons between the US and Malaysia.

“Sometimes people compare Malaysia to US on how it took them 200 years to elect the first black president and that Malaysia is only 60 years into independence, 140 years is a long time.

“We should not wait 140 years or use it as an argument like we can wait for another 100 years, no, we are at a different point of time.

“You’re comparing US who achieved independence in 1776 and we received it 200 years later.

“It's not an apple and apple comparison, we now know more and we should make that leap and not wait for another 50 to 60 years.

“It should be done now, there’s hope, but it requires a lot of political will," she said.

Since independence, Malaysia has always had a Malay prime minister despite the race factor not being officially outlined in the Federal Constitution.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong appoints the prime minister, who is Member of Parliament (MP), which in his opinion is most likely able to command the confidence of a majority of the MPs. This person is usually the leader of the party winning the most seats in a general election.

After the formation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963, Tunku Abdul Rahman - who was the Prime Minister of Malaya when the state achieved independence in Aug 31, 1957, became the first prime minister of Malaysia after its formation.

Tunku succeeded by Tunku Abdul Razak Hussein, followed by Tun Hussein Onn and then Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - who held the post for 22 years and 106 days, and then again became the seventh prime minister in 2018 for 22 months.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth prime minister in 2003 for five years and later passed on the title to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who last year became the first Malaysian prime minister to be sent to prison over corruption charges involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), a sovereign wealth fund.

Najib's former deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was axed over his vocal stance against 1MDB then became the eight prime minister after Dr Mahathir resigned in 2020 amidst the political crisis now dubbed the "Sheraton Move".

Muhyiddin then stepped one year and 168 days later, giving way to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Pressured by calls from his own party - Umno, he called for the dissolution of Parliament on Oct 10 last year.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was appointed the 10th prime minister after six days of post-election limbo.