KUALA LUMPUR: Former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Zaid Ibrahim has said that while the whole world, including Malaysia, condemned apartheid when it was in place in South Africa, Malaysia was no different, probably even worse.
Zaid also said although offensive, apartheid was at the very least clear-cut and precise.
He added that laws were enacted to preserve the separation between race communities and discrimination against the black population, and everyone knew where they stood.
“Can we say the same is true in Malaysia?” he asked.
He added that the whites made no bones about their position and did not care what the rest of the world thought about them.
“How different are we in Malaysia?” he asked.
Zaid said the Home Minister’s speech a few days ago lacked clarity about exactly what constituted an offence to the four sacred areas he grouped together as the Social Contract.
The minister had said that Umno would use all available laws to punish those who questioned them.
“How can one be thought to be opposing Malay as a national language? No right-minded Malaysian will oppose to the national language.
“We should have laws to make it clear what constitutes an offence. If we don’t, then Umno will always be able to say so-and-so is not loyal to the language or are opposed to it.
“Things will be even worse than what it was like under apartheid because the people would not know what the offending act is. It’s all up to Umno.
“The second sacred issue is the royalty. What are the things we must not do against a Ruler?
“If a Malay Ruler decides to have executive powers in the administration of the country and that is permitted by Umno, then say so in our laws so that the people will understand it is an offence to oppose it,” he said in his blog, Zaidgeist, today.
Zaid said another big issue was Islam and everything the authorities did could not be questioned as it might be construed as insulting the religion.
He said the government should spell out the issues or circumstances clearly.
He added that in South Africa, questioning the whites for their discriminatory policies was an offence – how different is this from what the Home Minister said in his recent speech?
“For now, no one knows what constitutes the Malay rights that he was talking about. Article 153 is about ‘privileges’ so I am not sure what Malay ‘rights’ are.
“If there are no detailed laws and prohibitions covering the four sacred areas, it would be most unfair to punish Malaysians for talking about them,” he added.
“Then Umno would be the sole authority to define what is and isn’t an offence,” he added.
Zaid said it was already clear that if you make Umno angry or feel insulted, it was an offence.
He said this was unfair and far worse than the laws that were in place during the apartheid era.