Joe Fernandez (Malaysiakini)
The debate over Article 153 of the Federal Constitution pertaining to the king’s powers being usurped by Umno and the federal government may shift overseas from Malaysia to the British Parliament, if efforts by Hindraf chief P Waythamoorthy come to fruition.
According to Waythamoorthy (right), a gathering of Queen’s Counsels (QC) will also debate, in the British parlliament, the shelf life of Article 153 in the light of declassified documents on the talks held between Tunku Abdul Rahman and officials of the British government pertaining to Merdeka.
While other details of the conference have not been finalised – it has yet to be determined whether the event will be in the House of Commons or the House of Lords – discussions are ongoing with QCs from Doughty Street Chamber, said Waythamoorthy.
The agenda for the conference, he added, will include debates on
- whether the issue of special Malay privileges is a “myth” created by Umno in violation of Article 153 to facilitate carte blanc extension of the party’s highly-politicised version of the Article to every facet of life in Malaysia
- the systematic violation of the legitimate aspirations of the non-Malay communities which are protected by Article 153
- the powers of the King in relation to Article 153
- why Article 153 was not scrapped, as agreed, 15 years after Merdeka in 1957
“We will invite Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali and his mentor Dr Mahathir Mohamad to participate in the conference,” Waythamoorthy when contacted by Malaysiakini.
“We would definitely want the Attorney-General of Malaysia (Abdul Gani Patail) to be there as well to state the Malaysian government’s position before the international community,” he added.
Given Waythamoorthy’s call for Article 153 as a whole to be scrapped, however, de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz had earlier said this reason alone compromises the former’s right to return to Malaysia.
Waythamoorthy, in self-imposed exile in London, has been granted political asylum by the British government and provided with a British UN travel document as a human rights lawyer-advocate.
Waythamoorthy said he does not rule out the participation in the conference of groups such as the Common Interest Group Malaysia (Cigma) headed by Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan as well as some Orang Asli associations.
Asked what he hoped to accomplish with holding a conference so far away from Malaysian shores, Waythamoorthy said such a discussion would never be allowed back home.
There is also the complication of his passport being revoked, he added, preventing him from traveling to Malaysia.
“What we are going to prove through the conference is that Umno has been misleading everybody on Article 153 and taking them for a ride,” said Waythamoorthy.
“We will easily establish this during the conference. We are backed by the Federal Constitution, including Article 153 and the declassified papers on the Merdeka talks,” he added.
‘Show me the money’
In place of the current Article 153 should be a new provision addressing the ‘underclass’ of all Malaysians, said Waythamoorthy.
Until that is done, he asserted, the current situation “denies us our rightful place in the sun.”
It also means non-native Muslims can seek its ‘privileges’ through the “backdoor” and claim to be Malays and natives”.
“There is no basis in law for a non-native to claim that he’s now a native by the backdoor method of professing Islam and claiming to be a constitutional Malay,” stressed Waythamoorthy.
On the other hand, there remain ‘genuine’ Malays throughout the country and natives in Sabah and Sarawak who are claiming to have been overlooked and ignored by the government and the New Economic Policy (NEP), he said further.
“It’s time that the Malays and Sabahan and Sarawakian natives stand up and ask their leaders what has happened to the NEP money. Why isn’t it in their pockets?” he asked.
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