Are Malays Okay With Having A Non-Malay As PM?

All of Malaysia's Prime Ministers have been Malays.

Cover image via Free Malaysia Today

Ever since our nation achieved independence, the people who won the post as the Prime Minister of Malaysia have always been a Malay

All of Malaysia's Prime Ministers have always been from UMNO, which is part of the Barisan Nasional coalition since the nation's independence in 1957.

However, over the years, certain political leaders from the ruling government have warned against voting for the opposition by saying that a non-Malay might be the next premier.

Just recently, UMNO supreme council member Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that Malays should unite to prevent a non-Malay from becoming Malaysia's prime minister in the future.

Who can be the Prime Minister of Malaysia?

The Federal Constitution does not state that the Prime Minister must be of a specific ethnic origin.

Among the requirements stated in the Federal Constitution for someone to be the appointed as the Prime Minister of Malaysia include:
• he or she must be a citizen by operation of law and not by registration or naturalisation, as per Article 43(7);
• he or she cannot be a Senator and must be in the House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat), as per Article 43(2)
• he or she must command the majority support in Dewan Rakyat, as per Article 43(2)(a)

Facts aside, popular local activist Fahmi Reza's curiosity on whether Malays would accept a non-Malay as Malaysia's Prime Minister, led him to create a poll on it

According to the poll on Twitter, 39% of respondents said that they could accept a non-Malay as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Meanwhile, 31% of the respondents said that they could accept a non-Malay as the Prime Minister of Malaysia with one condition - that person must be a Muslim.

The other 30%, however, completely rejected the possibility of having a non-Malay premier.

A total of 1,344 votes were collected in the 1-day poll.

"The survey results show that there is still a high level of mistrust among the Malay community towards the non-Malay community, which actually reveals our failure as society,” Fahmi told Malay Mail Online in an email response.

"Our education system that is increasingly polarised based on race and our political system that still has racial politics with race-based political parties at its core does not improve matters."

"But at the same time, this problem exists because there is a lack of interaction and sharing across races and in-depth understanding among ourselves in society," Fahmi said.

He acknowledged that there are some weaknesses in his survey but stressed that the main purpose of the poll was to initiate conversation

The methodology of the survey was simplistic and vulnerable to tactics that could easily skew the results. This included the possibility of having non-Malays as respondents although Fahmi had intended for the survey to be strictly for Malays only.

However, Fahmi reportedly felt the poll was fine as the main intention for conducting the survey was to get people to talk about the issue.

The graphic designer had posted the same question on his Facebook account earlier but seeing that he could not get a satisfactory conclusion from the responses he received, he resorted to using the Twitter poll instead

"I posted this question because I wished there are more spaces and opportunities where these exchanges can really happen in real life, and not just on social media,” he was quoted as saying by Malay Mail Online.

Fahmi, who has received international media attention this year for his clownish take on Najib's face, is planning to hold a series of workshops to discuss the issues related to racial discrimination and racism, topics which he thinks are rarely discussed in Malaysia.

He foresees that there will be more engagement that cuts across racial lines on the topic of racism, and this survey is only the starting point.

The ongoing religious tension in Malaysia intensifies as PM Najib Razak's government backs the Islamic penal code, which is another example of how polarised the community has become

The government on Thursday, 26 May, unexpectedly submitted to parliament a hudud bill that had been proposed by the Islamist group Pan-Malaysian Islamic (PAS).

Although debate on the law was deferred to October by PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang, its submission to parliament brought criticism from leaders across the political spectrum, including allies of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, who represent the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.

The Islamist party PAS is pushing for a constitutional amendment that would allow hudud to be implemented in Kelantan.

Earlier, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a key party in the BN coalition, called the submission of the hudud bill to parliament "unconstitutional".

Meanwhile, Malaysians recently revealed some of the most thought-provoking, burning questions that were buried deep in their hearts, without getting judged, all in the name of discussion:

Earlier this year, Fahmi Reza posted a graphic political statement by drawing PM Najib Razak with the distinctive features of a clown with the hashtag #KitaSemuaPenghasut:

Fahmi Reza's "clown-faced Najib" quickly went viral and the public began to put them up as a sign of protest against Najib:

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