PETALING JAYA: There is nothing in the Federal Constitution that bars a non-Malay, non-Muslim or non-bumiputra from holding any official position in the three branches of the government – the executive, legislative or judiciary, says the Malaysian Bar.
Its president George Varughese said the Bar is appalled that former Umno minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz criticised on the appointment of a non-bumiputra as the Attorney General, the Chief Justice and Finance Minister.
“The Malaysian Bar condemns this statement, which is baseless, and also reflects a damaging and divisive attitude that breeds prejudice and intolerance, and incites bigotry.
“The Malaysian Bar firmly believes that these appointments were just and beyond reproach,” said Varughese in a statement on Saturday (March 2).
He said Article 136 of the Federal Constitution stated that everyone serving the Federation would be treated impartially.
Race and religion, said Varughese, were not, and must never be, determining factors in making appointments.
He added that the appointments of Attorney General Tommy Thomas, Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng were made in accordance with the Federal Constitution.
“The racial identities and religious backgrounds of these three appointees are thus wholly irrelevant.
“The appropriateness of the appointments must be based solely on whether they were made in compliance with the Federal Constitution and the laws of the nation, and on merit — including the integrity, ability and competence of the individuals — as well as their commitment to abide by the Federal Constitution and to uphold the rule of law,” said Varughese.
The Bar believed that the nation’s multiculturalism and the people’s respect for diversity were the strengths of the nation, he said.
Varughese said Malaysians must rise above extremist, divisive thinking and unfounded statements that drove a wedge between Malaysians.
“The Malaysian Bar has full confidence in the Chief Justice, Attorney General and Minister of Finance to discharge their duties impartially, competently, diligently, with the utmost integrity, and in accordance with the rule of law,” Varughese.
During a campaign speech in Semenyih last month, Nazri reportedly questioned the appointment of non-Malays as the Attorney General, Chief Justice and Finance Minister, saying that Malay rights should be defended at all costs.
On Tuesday (Feb 26), Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Fuzi Harun said that Nazri was being investigated under the Sedition Act 1948.
Later on Tuesday, Nazri claimed that the controversy surrounding his speech was a “desperate attempt” by certain quarters to win the Semenyih by-election.