M-3-5, Plaza Damas
60 Jalan Sri Hartamas Saturday
50480 Kuala Lumpur
26th June 2008-06-27
The New Straits Times
31, Jalan Riong
59100 Kuala Lumpur
It is reported in the New Straits Times [26th June 2008] that the Bar Council will hold a half day forum on the social contract on Saturday 28th June 2008.
According to the Council Secretary, Lim Chee Wee, the forum was necessary as there had been discussion of late on the existence, nature and implication of Malaysia’s social contract as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
One of the question which may be discussed at the forum according to Lim Chee Wee, is whether Article 153 of the Constitution on Malay privileges is in line with the social contract idea.
Encouraged by the results of the 12th General Election and believing that their views and approach regarding the issue of freedom of religion, the concept of equality and meritocracy, among others, are shared by every, if not most Malaysians, the Council feels that it is opportune and proper for it to question Malay rights such as the ‘special privileges’ enshrined in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, thus the need for the forum hereinbefore stated.
The issue of Article 153 is not only a constitutional issue more so highly sensitive political one, and which is being hotly debated and disputed especially by the non-Malays.
Of course the Council may argue that the discussion is strictly focused on its constitutional aspects and that it is the right of every Malaysian to discuss it because it affects all Malaysians.
It has not gone unnoticed that the Bar Council has over the last few years been openly championing the right of Muslims to apostate to the dissatisfaction of the Muslim community.
It seems to me that the Bar Council is now descending into the political arena seemingly in conflict with its fundamental role and function.
Not only does the objective of the Bar Council in holding such forum appears to be directed towards providing a platform for the expression of views calculated to support the interests of certain communities, this particular forum appears to be a direct challenge to a fundamental provision of the Federal Constitution.
Is the action of the Bar Council in holding the aforesaid forum, with the view of questioning the enshrined Article 153 not in conflict with the avowed cause to uphold the Constitution, which the Bar Council often times remind us, is the Supreme Law of the country?
It has also not gone unnoticed that many parties, drawing confidence from the last general election and believing that the people are on their side, have challenged the position of Islam, the New Economic Policy, Malay rights, the position of Malay Rulers and even the issue of the attire for the sitting of the State Assemblies.
The openness and intensity of such challenges, in the internet, in public forums and other channels have without doubt widen the racial and religious polarization, contrary to all the positive claims being made by the proponents of such challenges.
It is for this reason that I would like to call upon the Bar Council to exercise the utmost caution and prudence before descending into the political arena under the guise of upholding constitutional rights and freedoms.