KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — Maverick Umno man Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah today (picture) likened present-day Malaysia to the highly unpopular Malayan Union idea forwarded by British colonialists in 1946, noting the way the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is running the country.
The Kelantan prince added that a review of the arrangements between the federal and state governments was greatly needed to restore each state’s “constitutional rights” which had been stripped away over the years.
“Putrajaya behaves as if we are a unitary state and not a federation,” the longest-serving federal lawmaker said at a public forum highlighting Federal-State relations organised by the Bar Council here today.
“Ironically we have become in practice the Malayan Union which an earlier generation resisted and defeated,” Razaleigh added, noting that the federal government had usurped the state’s powers and controlled with an iron-fist the state’s resources and even its right to decide how religion should be practiced.
“This is unconstitutional and must be resisted with just as much vigour as we resisted the Malayan Union. Malaysia is not viable in the long run as a unitary state,” the Gua Musang MP stressed to the organic crowd which turned up — it numbered between 50 and 70 at most — but which included ambassadors from Canada and Belgium.
Razaleigh noted that the balance of power between the federation and the states had been upset and was now tilted in favour of the central government and “concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister”.
He said a review was greatly needed right the imbalance and suggested it could be done either by a vote in each state’s legislative assembly or through the Conference of Rulers.
Razaleigh who was responsible for setting up the national oil company, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), had earlier attacked the Barisan Nasional-led federal government for its persistent denial against paying oil “royalty” to Kelantan.
He noted the denials have been splashed in newspapers and repeated by government officials must be looked as seriously because “the Federal government’s authority over these resources, as in all other things, is an authority derived from the original sovereignty of the states.”