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PETALING JAYA: Zaid Ibrahim has shot down an academician’s suggestion that Pakatan Harapan (PH) push for Malay rights and Islamic issues as an agenda to garner support from Malays and other Muslims in the upcoming 14th general election (GE14).

Calling it “nonsense”, the former de facto law minister said no amount of talk on rights and religion would change the current situation.

“A Malay academic kept insisting Malay privileges and special position of Islam must be battle cry of Pakatan to win votes,” he said in a posting on Twitter, in apparent reference to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia associate professor Faisal S Hazis.

“What nonsense. Unless we deal with Malay values, attitudes and thinking, no amount of talk on privileges will change anything.

“Only (with) a Pakatan government that enact policies that spur behavioural and attitude change will privileges mean anything,” added Zaid, who joined DAP in February this year.

Faisal had told a forum on Malaysian elections at Nottingham University’s teaching centre in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that the opposition parties should focus on the “Malay narrative”, including the special position of the Malays and of Islam to woo the community.

He claimed that PH’s precursor, the now defunct Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition, had touched on the issues in its 2011 “Buku Jingga” (Orange Book) manifesto but did not really push for them in the last general election of May 2013.

Faisal said he believed that PR did not pursue the issues as its components were “riding on the wave of the new politics of inclusivity” and pushing the Malay agenda was not trendy.

Zaid  told FMT that the special position guaranteed for Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak under the Federal Constitution did not mean anything as Malaysian society was getting backward and economically divided after 60 years of independence.

“Pakatan should explain how their policies are able to serve the Malay and Muslim communities along with the other races, and how they could benefit the special positions even more,” he said.

He said it took more than chanting the “Hidup Melayu” (long live Malays) slogan to champion the race and religion.

Meanwhile DAP national vice-chairman Dr Ariffin Omar said Faisal’s opinion may not necessary reflect the reality of what Malays are facing.

“The core issue that should be addressed by the federal government is the cost of living, employment rate and the quality of life of the Malays,” he told FMT.

Ariffin added the special position of the Malays and Islam have been long guaranteed under the Constitution.

“Why should we keep repeating the slogan for Malay rights and religion? For the past 60 years since independence, has the federal government really made use of Article 153 to empower the Malays?” he questioned.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said the Pakatan leaders are working on the election manifesto and policies.

She added the opposition has no plans to take away any policy that relates to Malay rights.

“Our Penang and Selangor governments never reduced or removed any privileges enjoyed by Malay Muslims in both states, instead we increased the allocations for Muslim institutions.

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