Saturday 28 May 2011

Law expert pokes holes into Gaps' argument

Constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari has debunked claims that the federal constitution provides Malays and bumiputera exclusive rights to government scholarships due to the presence of 'Malay rights' in the charter, which the law professor said was a misreading of the document.

"Perhaps the provision (Gagasan Anti-Penyelewengan Selangor) Gaps had in mind was article 153 which is on the special position of the Malays; something that is essentially the continuation of a provision in the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1948," said Abdul Aziz.

The professor explained that the article "merely talks about 'special position' without elaborating" and does not specifically mention any sort of special rights.

Gagasan Anti-Penyelewengan Selangor (Gaps) today weighed in on the ongoing PSD scholarship row calling on parties not to racialise the argument, that the Umno-linked pressure group said was clearly resolved through what they claimed were constitutional provisions.

NONEHowever, in rebutting this Abdul Aziz said: "(In) article 153 itself, the constitution does not mention 'right' as such.
"It merely talks about 'special position' without elaborating. In clause (1) to article 152 there is even the duty to strike a balance between this 'special position' and 'legitimate interests' of other communities.

"Clearly to speak of 'Malay right' here is not quite within the constitutional scheme.

"Furthermore, one should remember that 'rights' are to be found in Part II of the federal constitution and under this one finds article 8 which promotes equality," he said, summing that Gaps' rationale did not hold water.

Malay rulers approved article 153 review

Abdul Aziz, who has commented often on various mistaken claims on the constitution, also poked holes in Gaps' logic that it was not the Malays who had installed their claimed 'rights' but the Reid Commission, responsible for drafting the constitution.

"Well, the fact remains that the Reid Commission was just preparing a draft based on the memoranda and views submitted by the Malayans, Malays and non-Malays alike," said the professor.

"And in the process the commission also put in their views and perspectives, for a constitution has certain values and parameters that were universal and standard," he added.

Abdul Aziz, providing a remainder, said that the Commission had intended article 153 to be reviewed 15 years after independence.

"Although this was not carried through in the final draft - which eventually became our constitution in 1957 - (the intention to review) should serve as the guiding philosophy.

"Even the Malay rulers agreed at that time that independent Malaya should be one where quality prevails," he said.

Controversy erupted last week when politicians from the opposition and the ruling party alike raised a ruckus over top scoring students failing to secure the Public Services Department (PSD) scholarship.
Gaps is the latest to comment on the scholarship issue after right-wing group Perkasa demanded a 67 percent scholarships quota for bumiputera. 

Gaps, said to be Umno-linked, has made a career of protesting anything related to the Pakatan Selangor government, from opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's refusal to provide his DNA sample to the state government's efforts to regain control of state water to reduce water tariffs, as well as numerous claims of corruption aimed solely at the opposition-run Selangor government.

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