What Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi revealed while addressing a gathering at Dewan Terbuka Rompin on 6 December came as a shock. It raised more questions rather than provided answers.
According to Zahid, a guarantee to accept four provisions in the Constitution – relating to the Malay rulers, the Malay language, the position of Islam and Malay “rights” – was raised during a meeting between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan before the formation of the ‘unity government’.
Zahid boasted: “My first question as BN president was what about the position of Islam, Malay rights, Malay language and the Malay rulers?”
Zahid claimed the guarantee was provided by DAP secretary general Loke Siew Fook at this meeting.
He explained that “when the question was posed, the DAP secretary general replied, we are the new DAP, new leadership and we accept all articles in the constitution”.
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Now why was it necessary to pose this question? Was there any evidence that the DAP would not or did not honour these four provisions in the Constitution?
Was there any doubt that the DAP would ignore these provisions? Has any DAP leader expressed his opposition to these provisions?
It is glaringly clear that it is typical of Umno leaders to create problems when there are none!
The DAP secretary general’s response to this question is very puzzling. He was quoted as having said, “We are the new DAP, new leadership and we accept all articles in the Constitution.”
Loke did not say it had been the position of the DAP all along. His reply implied that, before this “new leadership”, the DAP had not respected these provisions in the Constitution.
What comes across from his reply is that only after this “new leadership” had taken over control of the DAP was this position addressed. Before the advent of this “new leadership”, there was no DAP position on these provisions!
But those of us who had been keeping tabs on the DAP are aware it had not opposed these provisions since its establishment on 11 October 1965, ie 57 years ago. In fact, on many occasions, the DAP had gone out of its way to assure the Malays they need not fear the party, as it was not against any of these provisions in the Constitution.
The main purpose of Zahid raising this issue now is to project himself as the ‘hero’ of the Malays. People like him create fear and suspicion among the Malays. That is rather unfortunate!
As for Loke, it is disappointing that he wasn’t able to present the DAP position truthfully, pointedly when the Constitution provides for Malay privileges, never rights. One does not need to be a scholar to know the salient difference: rights are mandatory; privileges are discretionary!