Tahun demi tahun silih berganti, tetapi apabila tiba musim penganugerahan biasiswa Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) pasti timbul isu hangat mengenai pengagihannya kepada lepasan SPM. Pada dasarnya, memandangkan hanya terdapat 2000 biasiswa JPA yang diberikan setiap tahun, sememangnya ada di kalangan pemohon yang akan kecewa. Tetapi apa yang sering menjadi perdebatan adalah sama ada proses pengagihan itu adil, dan ini suka atau tidak bersangkut paut dengan isu kuota Bumiputera.Tahun lepas, saya telah bangkitkan isu yang sama di Dewan Rakyat apabila didapati kuota bagi pelajar-pelajar Bumiputera dikurangkan dengan begitu ketara sekali berbanding dengan tahun-tahun terdahulu. Saya langsung tidak menidakkan pemberian biasiswa JPA kepada pelajar-pelajar bukan Bumiputera yang cemerlang, tetapi saya telah memohon kepada Kerajaan untuk kekalkan kuota yang munasabah bagi pelajar Bumiputera.Saya rasa gembira bila diberi tahu selepas isu ini dibangkitkan tahun lepas bahawa Kerajaan akan melaksanakan penganugerhan secara adil tahun ini dengan mengambil kira soal merit, latar belakang pelajar dan juga hak keistimewaan bagi Bumiputera.Dalam pada Kerajaan mencari titik perseimbangan antara keperluan meritokrasi dan hak istimewa Bumiputra, amat penting agar semua pihak yang terbabit memahami dan berpegang kepada prinsip asas pembentukan negara ini. Sejajar dengan itu, sebarang langkah atau pembaharuan yang sedang dilakukan kepada proses pemilihan penerima biasiswa tidak boleh bercanggah dengan Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia.Dalam hal ini, perlu diingati bahawa, tidak seperti dasar-dasar lain yang mempunyai unsur kepentingan Bumiputra seperti Dasar Ekonomi Baru, kuota bagi Bumiputra untuk biasiswa adalah termaktub dengan jelas dalam Perkara 153 Perlembagaan.Sayangnya, Penasihat DAP YB Lim Kit Siang hari ini mengeluarkan satu kenyataan yang menampakkan bahawa beliau tidak memahami Perlembagaan kita. Antara lain, beliau telah menyeru YAB Perdana Menteri supaya menghapuskan unsur etnik dalam memilih penerima biasiswa JPA. Ini jelas tidak mengikut apa yang tertulis dalam Perlembagaan Pesekutuan, yakni dokumen yang memperincikan asas dan prinsip tanah ini. Saya ingin bertanya kepada YB Lim Kit Siang, dengan mendesak supaya unsur etnik dihapuskan, adakah beliau sekarang ini mempersoalkan Perkara 153 itu sendiri? Bagi saya, sekiranya unsur etnik dihapuskan, penguatkuasaan Perkara 153 tidak dapat dilaksanakan. Justeru, bukankah cadangan YB Lim Kit Siang bercanggah atau ultra vires Perlembagaan Persekutuan?Mungkin dalam keghairan beliau untuk menjadi jaguh kepada kumpulan tertentu, beliau lupa kepada peruntukan penting ini yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan.Secara umum, saya memang merasakan bahawa proses pengagihan biasiswa ini perlu lebih telus dan beberapa langkah pembaharuan perlu dijalankan untuk memastikan bahawa kita berlaku adil kepada semua, disamping tidak menggadaikan prinsip sepertimana yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan.Formula pemilihan yang digunapakai oleh pihak JPA yang mengambil kira elemen lain seperti kelayakan merit, latar-belakang sosio-ekonomi, kedudukan geografi dan keistimewaan Bumiputera perlu dilaksanakan dengan adil dan telus. Saya diberi tahu beberapa kes dimana calon biasiswa yang memang layak tidak diberi apa-apa manakala penerima biasiswa pula terdiri dari mereka yang mempunyai prestasi yang kurang hebat. Kes-kes ini tidak ada kaitan dengan isu kaum sebab yang tak dapat dan yang dapat semua dari satu kaum. Jadi kepincangan yang ada bukanlah kerana isu kaum tetapi pelaksanaan yang tidak konsisten dan adil.Pelbagai cadangan yang sudah didengari mengenai isu biasiswa ini. Saya yakin bahawa kita akan mampu mencari jalan penyelesaian yang adil kepada semua pihak. Namun, dalam mencari jalan itu, usahlah sesiapapun melampaui batas cuba mempersoalkan Perkara 153 kerana ia hanya akan mengundang polemik dan permasalahan yang boleh dielakkan.
Response to The Malaysian Insider
Sir,I refer to your editorial titled "Najib and Khairy's unconvincing Perak script" which betrays muddled thinking, slanted arguments and an unconvincing script of your own. In your haste and determination to push for a dissolution of the Perak State Assembly as the only credible and just resolution to the current impasse, you have also abandoned sound journalistic judgment by ascribing to the Prime Minister and myself positions that do not frame the debate fairly and extensively which include looking at the workings of a representative democracy.First, you say that two wrongs do not make a right. According to you, Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s courting of defectors in the run up to his September 16 project last year was wrong and therefore there is no virtue in what has happened in Perak either. Let me make it clear that I have consistently frowned upon legislative crossovers, whichever direction they happen. I am troubled by the notion of an elected representative leaving the political party which gave him or her the platform to win a mandate from the voters. But the fact remains that legislative crossovers are legal, not just in Malaysia but many other representative democracies throughout the world – governments have fallen in other countries without fresh elections being called.Just last month Senator Arlen Specter left the Republican Party for the Democratic Party, in effect giving the latter 60 seats and a 'supermajority' in the United States Senate (60 votes are needed to pass legislation in the Senate). In 2001, Senate Republican Jim Jeffords declared himself independent and elevated the Democrats to simple majority status overnight – a case similar on many levels to the situation in Perak. In the UK – whose Westminster system forms the basis of our own Parliamentary system – on the eve of Tony Blair’s departure from Downing Street, Gordon Brown received a massive boost as Tory MP Quentin Davies crossed over to the Labour Party. Closer to home, party switching in the Philippines is an established pattern that raises no eyebrows at all, and in Thailand shifting legislative alliances saw the Democrat-coalition led by Abhisit Vejjajiva forming the government last December which stands to this day.Of course, an anti-hopping law can remedy this but it is important to note that not a single political party in Malaysia vigorously pursued the introduction of such a legislation when it was proposed last year. That means, as far as all the political parties in Malaysia are concerned, crossovers may not be virtuous, but they are not wrong.So, when crossovers happened in Perak and the opposition decries this as an affront to our democracy, it is only fair for Barisan Nasional to say that we are playing by the same rules and standards as them. There is surely nothing wrong with pointing that out. The Malaysian Insider may sit on a virtuous perch saying both sides are wrong because legislative crossovers are ‘unethical’, but the participants in our democracy - the political parties - have clearly said that they do not want the rules of the game changed with an anti-hopping legislation. Once you play by those rules you cannot suddenly turn around and say that they are not fair simply because things have not gone your way.The glaring case in point here was when the state assemblyman for Bota, Dato’ Nasaruddin Hashim, crossed over to PKR, there was no moral dilemma on the part of the opposition in accepting him with open arms. There were no calls by opposition leaders for a by-election in his constituency. But when the winds changed direction a few days later the same arguments could not apply because those defections went against the opposition.The editorial also found it fit to point out that several Pakatan figures were against Anwar’s moves as if that were enough to save the opposition from the shame of being hypocrites; I hasten to ask, would the (very) small number of Pakatan leaders who were uncomfortable with Anwar’s plans been so publicly against it had September 16 materialised? Maybe YB Karpal Singh would have rejected a Cabinet post in protest, but I doubt anyone else would have objected. Might I also remind The Malaysian Insider that there have been several BN figures echoing the call for state-wide elections in Perak to resolve this present crisis. By your twisted logic, perhaps this handful of individuals can also absolve BN from our so-called sins of a ‘power grab’ much like how the few conscientious dissenters in Pakatan have mitigated Anwar's own attempt at a 'grab'?Your assertion that the Sultan of Perak erred when asking Dato’ Seri Nizar Jamaluddin to step down is a matter for the courts of law. The strength of our constitutional monarchy is that Ruler’s are not above the law. If one can accept the decision of the High Court in recognizing Nizar as the Menteri Besar, then surely one must also allow for the appeal to be heard and accept the subsequent decision as well lest charges of double standards and hypocrisy are once again made against those who accept judicial decisions that go in their favour and cry foul against those that go against them.It is also interesting to note that the High Court judgment – that has been embraced by the opposition as a fair decision – did not put forward any grounds that the state assembly must be dissolved. It merely touched on the manner in which a Menteri Besar is removed, which brings me to the crux of the matter: there is no need for a dissolution of the assembly. In our system of government, when someone ceases to command the majority of the House, the monarch may invite someone whom he believes has the support of the majority to form a government.And as far as my initial thoughts on Messers Osman and Jamaluddin are concerned, they have not changed. In September 2008, I called for them to be removed as members of the state executive committee while they faced their corruption charge in court. I never asked them to vacate their seats as state assemblymen. I merely asked for them to vacate their executive posts in the state government. I would have been the first to oppose them being appointed in the new state executive committee under Dato' Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir but that is academic since they were not. It is also important to reiterate that they are not my BN colleagues but independent assemblymen who have indicated their support for Zambry as the Menteri Besar.That’s where we are right now. The only resolution to this impasse is, once the courts of law hear the appeal on the High Court decision, for the state assembly to convene and for either side to prove that they have the majority of the house. That would then exhaust both the legal and legislative processes and draw a line under this episode with certainty and finality.These are the real issues framed properly sans the Malaysian Insider's selective editorializing. If you agree that this is indeed a question of ‘principles and standards’, then perhaps you should worry about living up to a higher standard of journalism, before preaching about those values to someone no less than the Prime Minister.
Leader of UMNO Youth