KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — Minority rights that Tan Sri Annuar Musa claimed were protected and provided by Umno come instead from the Federal Constitution, said lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle.
Rebutting the Umno information chief’s remarks on Friday that the existence of Chinese schools, names and culture in Malaysia was due to Umno’s efforts and “blessings, they further said these were achieved through the joint efforts of all Malaysians rather than any single party.
PKR strategy director Sim Tze Tzin said Annuar’s remarks showed that Umno was stuck in “dinosaur politics” and outdated colonial methods of “divide-and-rule” by pitting different races against each other.
“In modern politics, political parties will be very thankful to the people for support, not asking people to be thankful to be good to them.
“It is their job to create a conducive and peaceful environment for everyone to prosper but they ask people to be thankful to them for doing their job.
“He’s trying to say the Chinese should be grateful to Umno, so these are racial politics,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted, adding that Umno was resorting to such “politics of fear” as it feared losing votes and power.
Sim called Annuar’s remarks irresponsible as the guarantee of rights for all citizens was jointly agreed upon by the country’s founding fathers and community leaders.
He added that all the rights listed by Annuar and more were enshrined in the Federal Constitution, and did not originate from any unilateral effort by Umno.
“So the Constitution is very inclusive to include everyone so that everyone has their rights and also a place in this country, so don’t say this is under Umno, this is because of Umno. It’s not; it’s because of the Constitution,” the Bayan Baru MP said.
PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang said claims such as Annuar’s were unhelpful in preserving the peaceful coexistence of Malaysians.
Chua added that Umno was welcome to defend the rights contained in the Constitution, but said it needed to recognise that these exist because all parties subscribe to and were committed to maintaining them.
“It is not something that, by the virtue or mercy or generosity of a certain party, we should enjoy such rights, so to continue this sort of argument is only detrimental to ethnic relations in this country,” he added.
BN did it together
MCA Youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon corrected Annuar’s remarks, pointing out that it was the joint effort of the component parties of the Barisan Nasional — then known as the Alliance Party — to include such liberties in the Federal Constitution.
Freedoms to practise one’s own language, culture and religion were enshrined in the constitution through the consensus of previous BN leaders who negotiated Malaysia’s’ independence from the British, he said.
“It is a consensus made by Umno, MCA and MIC, so it is a consensus by our forefathers
“I just want to correct the statement, it is by the three main races in Peninsular Malaysia, so we fight together, it is not a single party effort,” the deputy education minister told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
MCA Wanita chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie said Annuar’s statement was “misleading” and may taint the holistic vision and goodwill of the country’s forefathers, adding that he would not have made such a statement if he had studied the country’s history.
Like the others, she noted that the inalienable freedoms enjoyed by the country’s races were spelled out by the Federal Constitution, and has been so since Merdeka.
“It has nothing to do with anybody’s blessing, but based on the spirit of inclusiveness and consensus of BN,” she told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) information chief Datuk Kamarudin Md Nor said matters such as non-Malays not being required to adopt only Malay names can be attributed to an agreement between the country’s founding fathers and all three major political parties that then made up the federal government, including Umno.
He said any claim otherwise was an attempt to foment racial sentiments, when responding to Annuar’s claim that Umno was protecting local Chinese rights and accusing DAP of hurting these.
DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke argued that it was Umno that had allegedly tried to destroy multiculturalism in Malaysia by seeking to impose an “assimilation policy” in the 1960s and 1970s.
“At that time they tried to do away with Chinese schools, there were many attempts by Umno to do away with vernacular schools, to push for one culture and one language policy,” he said, adding that DAP resisted this.
“For him to say that the Chinese have to be indebted to Umno, I think it’s a laughing stock,” he said. “I mean Annuar can try to syiok sendiri, try to claim credit but I don’t think any Malaysian Chinese will believe what he said.”