Tun Mahahir Mohamad said MCA did ask for the deputy prime minister post. Datuk Seri Najib Razak said no, — they didn’t.
But later it was reported by Malaysiakini that former MCA deputy secretary-general Datuk Loke Yuen Yow confirmed he had in 2009 suggested the creation of a second deputy PM position to be filled by an MCA leader “to show the party commands respect”.
He however said the suggestion was made in his “personal capacity”.
Before Loke’s admission, on January 21 to be exact, Malay Mail Online reported that the MCA had also admitted in asking for the post of DPM.
Central committee member Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker was quoted as saying the party had sought to install one of its members in “that position”.
And Ti went on to say there’s nothing wrong nor is it an offence for a party to convey the wishes of its supporters upon seeing the post of DPM as an “empowerment to resolve the problems of the non-Malay, non-Muslim community”.
He however did not elaborate on what the problems the Chinese were facing in the country.
As Ti did not elaborate, I won’t comment on the “problems”.
But I must say I agree that there’s nothing wrong in the MCA or any other non-Malay party requesting for the deputy PM post. However, had the DAP made the request the party would have been demonized by Umno and its allies. Mahathir had mistakenly said DAP had sought the DPM post but later corrected himself by saying he meant the MCA.
Anyway, what’s wrong if a Chinese is made deputy prime minister? Or an Indian? Iban, Kadazan or any other non-Malay as long as he is a Malaysian and qualified?
Personally I see no reason a qualified non-Malay Malaysian cannot become DPM. Let’s not go into details on what the “qualities” are as we somehow know what we want in our deputy prime ministers.
What does the rule book say with regards to a non-Malay becoming deputy PM? I would say nothing specific.
The post of prime minister is “clear.” We are told many times there’s an “unwritten rule” that the prime minister must be a Malay Muslim.
But, there’s nothing as clear as that concerning the deputy post. However, it can be deduced that the post is “reserved” for a Malay because the norm is or by convention, the number two will take over from the number one, thus ensuring the PM post will remain in the hands of a Malay.
Put it the other way, if a non-Malay is deputy prime minister, he will not be able to ascend the throne which belongs to a Malay in the first place.
We all have our own take on the so-called unwritten rule. But that is the reality.
That’s why I can’t agree with MCA publicity chief Chai Kim Sen when he accused DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng of choosing to “underestimate their own rights” when the DAP denied allegations the party was seeking the position of DPM should Pakatan Harapan and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia succeed in forming the next federal government.
Chai was referring to remarks made by Lim Kit Siang said to have been made in 2008 that “anyone can be prime minister of Malaysia if the Umno-dominated BN was replaced with a truly multiracial coalition and that non-Malays must not underestimate themselves or forgo their rights”.
Umno is still dominant in BN. The coalition is very much in power. So, I wouldn’t say Lim or the DAP for that matter, is backtracking.
I would say the DAP is being realistic considering the political scenario of Malaysia.
The Malay Muslims have always been the majority. They still are and are set to continue to be the majority community of Malaysia. In fact, Malay Muslims will be a bigger majority in years to come!
According to the Department of Statistics, bumiputra population is expected to grow by 4.8 percentage points to 72.1 percent by 2040 from 67.3 percent in 2010.
And the department has projected that the Chinese proportion would drop to 20 percent from 24.5 percent in 2010.
Ethnic Indian proportion is expected to be reduced by 0.9 percentage points to 6.4 percent of the population by 2040.
Simply put, there will not be many Chinese, Indians and other non-Malays in future. Their population is dwindling, all overwhelmed by Malay Muslims — a situation that I, a Malay Muslim, do not like.
To Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian, minorities ultimately need to figure out how to work with the Malay Muslim majority population.
But he also said Muslims need to realize that non-Muslims are their fellow countrymen with whom they have a shared stake in the country’s continued peace and prosperity.
Ibrahim was quoted such by Malay Mail Online recently. But, take heart as he also said “Muslims in Malaysia are not monolithic; they ascribe to to many different political ideas.”
I agree with Ibrahim and hope what he said will come true.
But most of all I hope the race barrier will one day be broken, meritocracy will rule and any Malaysian can become a deputy prime minister, even prime minister, regardless of race and faith.
It won’t come easy, but It’s not a crime for me to hold on to that hope.
And with that hope I say GONG XI FA CAI to all. May the Rooster put us on the right path to achieve a truly Malaysian dream.
WRITER: Mohsin Abdullah