Do we need to have a Malay president? I honestly believe this is a non-issue that has somehow become ‘important’.
If the concern is about representation, then we already have GRCs (which i am in favour of, although i feel their sizes should be scaled down). In fact, having more Malays in senior cabinet positions, such as the Minister of Finance, Minister of Education, and Minister of Health would be far more meaningful (i am a realistic person: i know defence would be a long shot). And easier to implement. We do not need to amend the constitution for that; all we need is the PM to choose (qualified) Malays for those posts.
Now, if someone were to turn around and say, ‘but we choose the best people for each post’, then i would say: why do we have different standards for the Presidency then? I for one do believe in affirmative action in some cases (as in the GRC system), so i do not oppose a rotating presidency out of reverence for the ‘meritocratic’ principle. Rather, my concern with the proposal is that it is distracting us from other ethnic issues that are more pressing, and unfortunately, may end up to be a token move.
And, for those who believe affirmative action of some sort is needed to ensure a Malay President takes office, i would like to ask: would you then similarly consider affirmative action in the economic sphere (if there is also a lack of Malay representation)? If your support for positive discrimination only extends to the political sphere, but not others, may i ask why then? Is there some inconsistency in your outlook?
Of course, there are those (who are eager to support any government proposal) saying: ‘if there’s no Malay President, people complain. If there are measures to guarantee a Malay President, people complain. The government cannot win! What do you expect them to do???’
Well, as a start, try putting a Malay in charge of the Education Ministry. I’m sure no Malay would be complaining.
Source: Walid J. Abdullah