Monday, August 25, 2008

I remember reading a book which discussed the history, drafting process, salient features, emergence as well as the Malaysian orthodox understanding of our glorious Federal Constitution. It’s a revelation to learn all these basic things of our Constitution. It is certainly an eye-opener to understand how the great document is instrumental in orchestrating the spirit of tolerance among the various races of this land, as well as its undeniable successive roles in keeping all the various organs and the people in Malaysia in good terms, although it is understandable that it can’t in any way perfectly become the problem-fixer to some of the issues hovering in the air. I guess being a law student has rendered me unable to appreciate the social impact of the Constitution upon our life and relations with each other. In constitutional law we learn more of the legal aspects of the document instead of its basic aims in steering this country.

My reading particularly touched on the issue of affirmative action as provided for under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Stances and opinions were espoused as to the relevancy of the action in today’s context and its effectiveness in reaching the goal it was meant to achieve. I was really interested in the public’s position of this particular provision of our Constitution.

My mind suddenly visited the recent event that took place in front of an MB’s office. A multitude of people was gathering in defence of Article 153 and all benefits patronised by it. Well, as Art 10(1)(a) and (b) says, everyone has the right to freedom of speech, expression and peaceful assembly. I may disapprove your action but I shall defend your rights.

Arh, let me put this right; I recognise the rights to peacefully aseemble but the last time I checked, Section 27 of the Police Act criminalises an assembly without permit of more than 5 people. If I’m not mistaken, the BERSIH protestors were charged in court for their demonstration. Revisiting the recent demonstration orchestrated by some ‘leaders’, I’m not sure whether the demonstration obtained a permit or not. And I seemed unable to appreciate the fact that any of the demonstrators are slapped with criminal charge; most probably because there is no action taken? One question: are we moving forward and being more appreciative to our rights as enumerated in Art 10(1)(b) or…? It’s rhetoric, by the way

Back to the main discussion, I believe in affirmative action but on a different basis, not similar to the belief held by most of the benefits-receivers of this action. To me affirmative action should only be employed to help the needy, not the people who do not really need it. Who then deserve to reap the benefits of such affirmative action? Those who are unable to stand on their on feet of course, at least metaphorically speaking; this is owing to the fact of absence of sound financial support or any other means to continue their social survival. Those who are seemingly “can’t stand on their on feet” should not be quick to be accorded with the assistance found in the affirmative action. If they can work their arse off and earn something without assistance, then by all means, they should be encouraged to take such step.

Oh, before we harbour this article and end our voyage of reading, a quick response to my own question. Folks, when it comes to the issue of transgression of the law, don’t show favour, please. Nobody likes it when the law is capable of being enforced unfairly and is only enforced to certain groups of people while the others who commit the same crime escape punishment. Remember government’s studies 101: a democratic government is a government by law, not by men.

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