Friday, November 14, 2008

The Need to Eliminate the Grey Area Surrounding the Social Contract.

There have been many articles showered with numerous viewpoints with regards to the Social Contract, and it would be an act of repetition for me to indulge into it again. With my limited knowledge on this agreement, allow me to share, what I consider would be in the minds of most laymen in Malaysia. With exception to the tenet and the basic, underlying-fundamental concepts of the Social Contract, we may not be able to seize the entire framework of the contract. We, however, are not spared from feeling the effects brought about by what was said to be an agreement between our founding fathers.

The Social Contract has surely been one of the most debated agreements concerning Malaysians and yet, almost surprisingly, none have even come close towards drawing the curtain on it. Disputes vary in many forms of opinionated ideologies and thoughts; the only consistent element being the fact that it remains a barrier to racial unity. Different parties, have their own defined interpretation, all of which conveniently fit into their pre-established theories. Their motives, although some seemingly intellectual from the outset, masquerade in different shapes. Some use it as a trump card for political mileage, and the rest merely use it to suck up to the ones at the summit. I am not in a position to say whether there are flaws in its structure, but I can say, for certain, that the various forms of interpretations surrounding it does not help our course towards achieving the Bangsa Malaysia agenda.

For us to even consider moving pass this stalemate that we’ve gotten ourselves into, there is an urgent need for us to acknowledge that the Social Contract has to be reviewed. In the first place, does the Social Contract even exist? If it does, is it relevant today? It is time for various groups, particularly the law makers, to work together to ensure that a proper understanding of the Social Contract is crafted out. It wouldn’t take long for a non-Malay to point out, almost instantly, that the Social Contract is a fantasy; one that never existed to begin with. But again, are we being biased? Are we basing it on historical facts, or are we jumping into this conclusion simply because, we too, are inclined to structure our thoughts in line with what conforms to our own assembled set of beliefs. This is the sad state, we Malaysians are living in today. Consciously, or perhaps even subconsciously, we tend to judge from a racial perspective. And this is exactly the reason why we have yet to reach a consensus on this issue.

Could we, for once, act as Malaysians and resolve this issue? From a personal point of view, I believe that once this is done, it would set up a solid ground for us to think, act, and behave like Malaysians. But how do we do that? Firstly, as stated on the title head of my post, would be the need to eliminate the grey area surrounding the Social Contract, which is undeniably, ambiguous. The very existence of the Social Contract has been a question that many have failed to answer, as it was not explicitly stated in the Federal Constitution. However, the proponents of the Social Contract believe that it was an implied term agreed upon by our founding fathers, in return of citizenships being offered to the Non-Malays.

Some have since argued that, even if it was implied to be part of the Federal Constitution, it is not relevant for it be applied at a time when our nation had progressed through half a century of Independence. Tunku Abdul Rahman, was quoted as saying:-

"...when we (the Malays) fought against the Malayan Union (which upset the position of the Malays' rights) the others took no part in it because they said this is purely a Malay concern, and not theirs. They also indicate that they owe their loyalty to their countries of origin, and for that reason they oppose the Barnes Report to make Malay the national language. If we were to hand over the Malays to these so-called Malayans when their nationality has not been defined there will be a lot of problems ahead of us."

However, he continued to say that "For those who love and feel they owe undivided loyalty to this country, we will welcome them as Malayans. They must truly be Malayans, and they will have the same rights and privileges as the Malays."

As mentioned earlier, advocates of the Social Contract have often claimed that the founding fathers of our nation have agreed to adhere by the contract, and it would not be appropriate for it to be disputed now. However, if that was the case, why would Tunku Abdul Rahman, who could surely be considered the leader of the founding fathers, himself, explicitly say that the Non-Malays will have the same rights and privileges as the Malays, should they remain loyal to the country? Today, we have non-Malays who are of second, third and even fourth generation Malaysians living here, in this country. On that ground, arguably, it could be implied that the Social Contract, even if it was once accepted as an implied agreement, is no longer relevant today. Apart from that, the act of those who have, in recent times, attempted to equate the Social Contract with the New Economic Policy, and use it as a discriminatory tool, as some may opt to believe, have also been a subject of debate.

In contrast, there are many other basis used by those in favor of the Social Contract to believe that the agreement should be still upheld; among others, as a vital agreement to ensure racial unity. It is impossible for all the areas of this contract to be covered, unless an in-depth discussion is done to evaluate it. I think, most of us Malaysians, want a clearer picture of the Social Contract and its relevance to our nation today. But for us to even sniff this desired outcome, all relevant parties, including us, should move beyond our racially encircled mindset, and start carrying ourselves as a true Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

Daring to hope,

Argus Eye.

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