Special Position of Malays and the Bumiputera Sabah and Sarawak

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Special Position of Malays and the Bumiputera Sabah and Sarawak

Special position of Malays and the Bumiputera Sabah and Sarawak also be touched in Article Rational 153. These privileges include position in public service, scholarship, education, business and other special facilities are provided. However, it also protects othes races, there is responsible of YDPA to protect their right valid in accordance with other provisions. At the same time, these privileges cannot be implemnted if causes lost of any public position that held by someome or withdrawal any scholarship or privileges enjoyed by others communties or dismantling or teminating permit license held by someone.

Others special position of Malays including provisions of Article 86 and 90 that related to the Malay reserve land so that the reserve land is protected from the non-Malay.
Who is Malay ?

In Constitution of Malaysia, the characteristics of Malay are typically speak in Malay, embrace Islam and adpot Malay customs while Bumiputera in Sarawak are consists of any one of the “Asli” race, that is Bukitan, Bidayuh, Dusun, Dayak Laut, Dayak Darat, Kadayan, Kalabit, Kayan, Kenyah, Kajang, Lugat, Lisum, Melayu, Melanau, Murut, Penan, Sian, Tagal, Tabun and Ukit or mixed descent from above and those who born in Sabah and someone from “Kaum Asli Sabah” are known as Bumiputera in Sabah.

Rational Article 153

The main matters that should be appreciated during formulation of Constitution Malaysia are spirit of understanding, accommodative, power sharing and ready to sacrifice among Malay and the non-Malay. As a citizen of Malaysia, we have to appreciate this situation because Constitution of Malaysia is the highest level of law and it acts as a reference to everyone.

There are some suggestions has been agreed when the formulation of Constitution Malaysia is progressing. During processing, spiritual of accommodative is occurred among the Malay and the non-Malay and it is called as “social contract”. As an example, Malays loosen the rules of the citizenship to non-Malay and non-Malays accept the fact of special position of Malays. On that time, Malays accept principle of “jus soli”, that is grants the citizenship to non-Malays ethnic who are born before and after independent day. More than 800,000 non-Malays get the citizenship after implemention of this principle.

Table 1.1: The number of Non-Malays who become a citizen by Registration


Number of non-Malays

1957(31 August – 31 December 1957)








Source: Derived from Mohd Suffian Hashim, 1987: Mengenal Perlembagaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, DBP

For a democracy country, citizenship is valuable for each citizen. It is because they entitled to vote in every election to determine the government.

In the Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, privileges of Malay includes position in the public services , scholarship, education, business and others special facilities. Articles 153 cannot be revised, changed or stripped without permission from Majlis Raja-raja Melayu.

Public Services

In the Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, responsible of the YDPA(Yang Di-Pertuan Agong) is determine the reserve for the Malay and Bumiputera Sabah and Sarawak with provides the number of position in the public services. And YDPA is not allowed to strip any position of public service that hold by a Malay or non-Malay.

There is a reasonable rational for a reserve for Malays and Bumiputera Sabah and Sarawak in the rate of federal service. It is because there is few number of Malays service with government during the colonial and early Independence.

Table 1.2: First Phase Officer in the Government Service on 1 November 1968





Service of the Administrator




professional of architect, engineering and officer




Medical and health officer




Physical scientist




Real scientist




Professional Statistician




Legal services




Uniformed services




Transportation and mass media








Source: Derived from Mohd Suffian Hashim 1987: Mengenal Perlembagaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, DBP

Refer to the table 1.2, only 36.28% of Malay involved from the overall on year 1968. There is few Malays service on the scientist and professional officer compared to non-Malays, especially Health and Medical Officer. There has only 9% from the overall.


At the year 1970, average of Malays of the padi, rubber trapper and fishermen in poverty is 64.8 % compared to non-Malay is 26%(Banci Penduduk 1979, jabatan Perangkaan). This situation shows majority of Malays in poverty, especially at rural areas. The effect of the ommision of colonial rule is Malay people left behind do as observers of economics and at that time changes taking place in the Federation of Malaya(Haris Md. Jadi, 1990).

The income gap between Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera are still high. Example, income for Malay is RM 1 compared to Chinese is RM 2.30 and RM1.80 for Indian in the year 1970. Similarly, states a majority of the Malays and the Bumiputera has the highest poverty rate, that is exceeding 60% in 1970. Majority of Malays stay at Perlis, Terrengganu, Kedah and Kelantan. At the same year, in terms of ownership of national wealth for Malay is 2.4% while 34% for non-Malays. Obviously this is still going up in the 9th Malaysia Planning, the aim of achieving a 30% ownership of national wealth by the Malays have not yet been reached.

Therefore, Malays still need help and guide, especially in producing the “Masyarakat Perdagangan dam Perindustrian Bumiputera” (MPPB). Development of MPPB will continue as the main approach in reforming the society and ensure greater participation of Bumiputera in the economy (9MP). Then, Articles 153 should be used to achieve this goal. Such as, provide the business license and strategic business premises.

In short, the factor of unfair and unbalanced of wealth and income distribution among the people is the most powerful influence ethnic relations in Malaysia (Sanusi Osman, 1987). Therefore, Article 153 should allocate that Malays have privileges in the field of economics so that economic disparity can be eliminated.


Malay in the state of the oppressed after British left their education systems. At that time, education systems of British just educate Malay to become farmers that better than their parents. This is exacerbated by the very poor Malay schools without enough furniture, lasck of textbooks and reading materials well Malay parent are beginning to lose confidence in the Malay schools (Laporan Barnes, 1951).

In year 1970, the number of Bumiputera entered into IPTA for the first degree is 40.2% (3084 students) compared to non-Bumiputera is 56.2% (4311 students). This situation is not good in the context of ethnic relations in Malaysia as there is disparity between the ethnic professionals. Example, in year 1970 Bumiputera professional (architect, accountant, engineering, doctor, surveyors and lawyers) is 4.9% (225 people) compared to non-Bumiputera is 84.3% (3859 people) and still left behind nowadays.

If scrutinized until now, Article 153 still need to continue to achieve the desired goals. However, at the same time, facilities and privileges are granted to non-Malay ethnic group in terms of education. For example, when the country gained independence, the government at that time did not directly remove primary school (SRJK) of Chinese and Tamil. On the other hand, defends the existence of these schools even Razak Repot 1956 wanted to create a national education system.

The 12th paragraph of the Razak Report 1956 mentions “the purpose of education policy in this country is meant to unite kids from all races in this country by wearing a regulation that covers all nation studies using the national language as medium of instruction, although this cannot be implemented immediately but must be made with gradually”.

Similarly, the existence of Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM) and Matriculation are designated to the Malays. With the aim to strengthen ethnic ties and solidarity among students, this privilege was granted to non-Malays when the government allowed them to enter MRSM and Matriculation with 10% quota. At the same time, university by enrollment quota system has also changed to the system of meritocracy that is the selection of students based on academic performance, regardless of ethnic group. Although the special position on the education has been enshrined in the Constitution, but the various accommodative attitude of the Malay and non-Malay have been created in an effort to improve the ethnic relations in Malaysia.

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