Malaysia - Part 2

Posted by M ws On Tuesday, September 13, 2011 2 comments
The following is Part II of Tunku Abdul Rahman's article on  Malaysia: Key Area in Southeast Asia (Part 1) by Tunku Abdul Rahman which was written in 1965. Part I was posted at this link a few hours ago and Part III can be read HERE.

Malaysia: Key Area in Southeast Asia (Part 1I) by Tunku Abdul Rahman

Part II

In the past two years of Malaysian independence we have maintained and upheld the practice and principles of democracy. All Malaysians have come to feel they have a part to play and a responsibility to share in the national well-being. The reasons for our success can be found in the Malaysian Constitution, in which all the fundamental freedoms-such as equality, freedom of speech and freedom of association-are protected. One typical section of the Constitution reads, "All persons are equal before the law and are entitled to the equal protection of the law." Another states, "There shall be no discrimination against citizens on the grounds only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law." Although Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, every Malaysian has the right to practice the creed of his own choice.

The Constitution also provides for parity among the various racial groups. It was obviously necessary in the general interest to do away with economic and educational handicaps affecting the Malays and other indigenous peoples. By common consent, scholarships and opportunities were made more readily available to the indigenous peoples, the least advanced group economically, to provide an incentive for personal achievement. They were also given easier access into government service. Our aim to establish a system of parity, not only politically but economically, would leave no one out or unable to compete in the forward march of the new Malaysia. The omissions of the past have to be rectified in the cause of future progress.

An American magazine recently stated that Malaysia was a democracy in all respects save one, meaning the "special privileges for the Malays." I must point out that although the Constitution provides for a special position for the indigenous peoples at present, it also provides for periodic review of the position when necessary. Ultimately the time will come when it will be possible by legislative action to amend the Constitution because this special position will no longer be needed.

There are still some persons, however, who wish to upset this carefully planned system of ensuring that all races have a fair share in economic progress. They are out of touch with general feeling and reveal a sorry lack of understanding of the importance of good will and coöperation in a multiracial nation. It would be foolish, however, to hasten the day of revision of these constitutional rights prematurely; to do so would defeat the whole purpose of this particular aspect of our economic planning.

Any nation which is an association of states with a federal structure has problems between the central and state governments. One has only to look at the United States or Canada or Australia to realize that even after years of federation such problems do arise. Fortunately for Malaysia, our Constitution has drawn on the experience of other federated nations, and in addition the eleven states of the former Federation of Malaya had had six successful years of working under the federal system.

The Alliance Party is in power in all the states of Malaysia except Kelantan and Singapore. The Pan-Malayan Islamic Party is in control in Kelantan, and has been since 1959. For four years they showed reluctance to coöperate with the Federal Government, but in the past year or so they have come to realize that their state was falling behind in the general march of progress. Today they are coöperating closely with the Alliance Government and the results are already becoming evident.

The state of Singapore is under the control of another opposition group, the People's Action Party, led by its Premier, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore has had no previous experience of working in a federal nation, and due to the fact of being the "New York" of Malaysia it probably feels that its position is far more important than that of the rest of Malaysia. Some of the state's leaders do not realize the great benefit Singapore is already enjoying as a result of being part of Malaysia, and are rather inclined to attribute the successes to themselves. They are quick to criticize the central government at every opportunity, principally because their own state government is run by an opposition party. This seems to arouse undue apprehension in the minds of some foreign observers, who shake their heads and talk pessimistically about the future of Malaysia. Oddly enough, some of these critics come from federal nations themselves. I myself have no doubt that as Singapore continues to make further progress in Malaysia and adapts itself more readily through experience and understanding of the coöperation necessary in a federal structure, these pangs of local pride and wishes for dominance will slowly pass away. Federation cannot work on the basis of only taking but not giving. The national interest must be the prime over-all concern. The progress of Singapore is important to Malaysia, but by the same token, the progress of Malaysia is equally vital to Singapore. I am confident that whatever little differences exist at present between the central government and the state government will work out satisfactorily.

Every developing nation has its problems, but few have tackled them more constructively than has Malaysia. Great developments have occurred in the rural sector of our economy. Industrialization is making rapid progress. New construction can be seen everywhere-roads, dams, schools, hospitals, universities, office buildings, national institutions, housing, mosques, churches and temples, and, most strikingly, new industrial estates. Development of electric power already exceeds requirements, with practical plans already being made for years ahead. New wharves are going up in the ports, new airports are being completed. Malaysia possesses one of the finest systems of telecommunications this side of Europe. In every field- industrial, commercial, agricultural, educational, social-striking progress is visible.

Malaysia has the second highest standard of living in the East, following only that of Japan. Its economy is sound and stable. Its foreign exchange and reserves total $1 billion. New investment, both local and foreign, is pouring in. Hardly a day goes by without the opening of some new factory or the announcement of some new company. The total volume of trade expands with every passing year. All these achievements are due to a healthy spirit of free enterprise and the successful working of our democracy owing to the tolerance, good will and efforts of our people of many racial origins.

Read Part III here.

2 comments to Malaysia - Part 2

  1. says:

    joshua wong MWS,

    Reading this, i can't help seeing and feeling the optimism of Tunku's vision back then. And we have the second highest standard of living in Asia then.

    What happen to us along the way? How could we go so wrong?

  1. says:

    masterwordsmith Dear Joshua

    Tunku was a fantastic leader - despite his weaknesses. He had a genuine heart for the nation and a vision that was way beyond his time.

    Along the way - well...the rot set in. Greed is probably the main causal factor for the rot.

    How tragic!

    Take care and thanks for this thought-provoking comment.


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