'Social contract' - only in Malaysia does this term connote various meanings.
To the UMNOputras and supporters, it’s their mantra of the inviolability of ketuanan Melayu, their passport to power, position and personal prosperity via Malay ‘special rights’, something struck in steel plate and inerasable.
To the other Malays, it is something, whatever it is, over which you got to watch those sneaky Chinese, who would undoubtedly try to undermine and do away with it, which may explain why they haven’t got any yet, whatever it is – trust those greedy ungrateful Chinese.
To the non-Malays, it’s the typical UMNO self-serving bullsh*t that constantly reminds them (the nons) of their second class citizen status, and that they are (2nd class) citizens of Malaysia only by the permission and tolerance of the Malays, and only if they (the nons), as quid pro quo for their citizenship, behave and not, never ever, question Malay ‘special rights’.
The Crown Regent of Kelantan reminded us of that, and in one fell swoop separating his future subjects into the master race and ‘nons’ – for more, read Kelantan Crown Prince 'slapped' non-Malays in face!
But now Malaysiakini has just reported something we all knew but couldn’t get it out without being threatened with keris, tebuans and the threat of another May 13.
I am going to keep it simple without going into history, the Reid Commission, the Constitution, its Article 153, NEP, NDP etc etc etc.
Malaysiakini told us that Royal Professor Dr Ungku Abdul Aziz just made a statement that there was no such thing as a social contract between Malaysia's diverse ethnic communities, putting paid (at least intellectually) to the ketuanan Melayu propaganda, a insidious Apartheid-like racist discriminatory policy of political, economic, social, cultural and religious dominance.
Dr Ungku Aziz said that the social contract was "a fantasy created by politicians of all sorts of colours depending on their interest." Well, it has been, for some, a profitable fantasy, and for others, a frustrating one - but it's a fantasy that has been vigorously and fiercely implemented and realised.
He believes whatever contract there was, it was more of an ‘economic contract’, what most countries would call 'affirmative action', in areas of education and health for groups that needed it the most.
But alas, the non-UMNO Malays and the 'non' groups like the very marginalised Indian Malaysians have yet to benefit from it.
Dr M disagreed with the Royal Professor but conceded that there wasn’t anything written down in black and white. He averred that the so-called social contract was an 'understanding' among founders of Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Alliance or Perikatan government.
The problem for UMNO with the universally recognised term of 'affirmative action' is that, by the very nature of that term (affirmative action), only those who 'need the help' would be entitled to it, whereas the murky terms and structure of a loose and broadly defined ‘social contract’ means greater opportunities for exploitation in the name of being from one ethnic group.
Take for example, the 7% discount for bumiputera (meaning Malays). Why should a rich Malay, perhaps a CEO of a bank or an UMNO big time contractor or a highly paid pathologist, get an automatic 7% discount when buying a house while struggling Samy, a postman, and mechanic Mak, not only have to pay the full amount but in reality would also be subsidizing the 7% for the Malay towkay. Now, that's adding injury to insult!
No one is against the rural poor of Malaysia, mainly Malays and other indigenous natives, from benefitting through affirmative action, but the institutionalized trough has become so politicized that only members of a political party and their supporters get to drink heartily from it.
Shambhala is an ideal mythological state that lives only in our imagination, but it would be nice to know how close we would be to that ideal state. As I wrote in How far are we from Shambhala?, how many more years will it take us to drop those kulit-fication?
I dare not think of the answer.