Former EC chairman gets a history lesson on Malaysia

Sonia Ramachandran

PETALING JAYA: Former Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman might want to revisit his history books as he got his facts completely wrong when he said the country belonged to the Malays.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak social sciences faculty senior lecturer Dr Arnold Puyok said that Abdul Rashid had forgotten that without Sabah and Sarawak, there would not be a country called Malaysia.

“I think the former EC chairman misinterpreted the history of the country. If not for Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia would not have been formed. That is a historical fact that no one can argue. He has got his facts completely wrong,” Puyok told theantdaily.

He was commenting on Abdul Rashid, who is now part of Malay right-wing group Perkasa, saying that Malays will have to remain in power politically as the country belonged to the Malays.

“This place was called the Malay Federation [Tanah Persekutuan Melayu] and when we gained independence, it was changed to Malaya and after other states joined us, it again changed to West Malaysia [Malaysia Barat]. This land has always belonged to the Malays. It’s in the history,” Abdul Rashid reportedly said.

He, however, did not want to be drawn into the role of other races in Malaysia.

Said Puyok: “That is the problem with Perkasa. They think the country only belongs to the Malays. How about the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak? They are also called Malaysians, not Malays.

“One’s ethnic identity is different from one’s religious beliefs. The Kadazans want to call themselves Kadazans, the Ibans want to call themselves Ibans and the same goes for the other ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak. Some may be Muslims but they refuse to call themselves Malays.”

Abdul Rashid also reportedly said that he joined Perkasa because he wanted to champion Malay rights and ensure they remained in the scheme of things after the next general election, adding that his experience could help the majority race keep power.

He was reported to have said that 55 per cent of the country’s 28 million population was aged 21 and above, with only 6.3 million Malays registered as voters when the number should be 15.3 million.

On Bumiputeras, he was reported to have said that eligible voters should be around 19 per cent but only 10 per cent registered, adding that he obtained these figures from his “research and valid sources”.

Speaking while opening the Perkasa Federal Territory annual general meeting on Nov 24, Abdul Rashid was quoted as saying that with the combination of Malays and Bumiputera votes, the Malays could easily retain political power.

Probably so, but Abdul Rashid might want to include the Bumiputera community in the country in his statement the next time he says “the country belongs to the Malays” if he wants this to be a reality.

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