Friday, November 7, 2008

Kontrak Sosial Pandangan India #3

The 'social contract' - a defining call to academia

Dr Collin Abraham | Oct 30, 08 4:23pm

Academic and professional intervention to clear the ‘muddy waters’ in the scenario of the ‘social contract’ is not only timely, but crucially long overdue.

Indeed, it can be argued that this avoidance of engagement on the part of the intellectual community, can be said to be nothing more than a reflection of the neglect to engage, because of their lack or limited professional competence and capability.

As a consequence, the documentation on an overview of the theoretical and pragmatic defining of social issues and concerns such as the ‘social contract’ have necessarily been a-theoretical and a-historical and the wider community is left to search blindly in attempts at further research for relevant dimensions in arriving at an acceptable consensus.

Against this background, it is refreshing to note that a useful attempt has been made in this direction by the writer of the letter ‘Social Contract’ already integrated into Constitution.

Indeed, this letter has successfully presented a realistic analysis that strikes at the very heart of the main issues so that it only requires supportive documentary academic, intellectual and professional evidence for an acceptable consensus for all concerned.

My take on the writer’s presentation is that it basically involves the fundamental and pivotal question, that if the ‘social contract’ was that crucially important in defining the constitutional status and politico- economic relationships between the Malays and non-Malays for political independence, then surely it should have been entrenched as the ‘social contract’ within the constitution itself.

In my opinion, the writer correctly argues that in the face of increasing pressure by the British that independence will only be on condition that the citizenship question among non-Malays is resolved, Umno agreed merely to incorporate the special provisions for the Malays into the constitution as the ‘social contract’.

It would however be ‘simplistic’ to limit this outcome analysis to a one-factor causation. There are apparently equally important questions such as the composition of the Umno ‘mandate’ to negotiate the ‘social contract’ with the British after the majority Malay nationalist and Islamic parties withdrew from Umno, so that in fact the latter did not have the mandate to negotiate with the British for the Malay community as a whole.

In other words it was the ‘elitist’ Malay political parties among the ruling class that negotiated the Malay special rights as the so-called ‘social contract’.

These are serious assertions that have wide political implications across the board and must therefore be handled sensitively if they are to have the desired effect.

This can be achieved if the intervention call on the academic and intellectual community to deliver could be taken up now by a leading local university such as the USM especially since it has now received the distinction of being the apex university.

What is urgently needed therefore is for USM to set up a small group of say five members to review the entire question and to come up with a report and recommendations within one month.


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