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Sharing the Nation
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Democratic Action Party
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Subtitle: Faith, Difference, Power & the State 50 years after Merdeka
Author/Editor: Norani Othman,Mavis C Puthucheary,Clive S Kessler
New Pb 99 pp.
Subject: Religion,Politics,Malaysia
Condition: Good
Published: 2008

Malaysia's nation's independence and its Constitution are grounded upon the political bargaining process and ensuing "social contract" that made them possible. Yet two major questions central to the "Merdeka process" persist.

First, what exactly were the terms, and what is now the current standing and force, of that social contract? Still blurred and ill-understood after fifty years of national independence, the answers to this question remain central to the life of the nation.

Second, under the independence Constitution that rests upon what has become retrospectively known as the nation's "social contract", what specifically was the agreed constitutional position of Islam? What was the mutually accepted "religion and society status quo" that the Constitution, its framers and the parties consenting to its adoption sought to establish? Did  those understandings establish Malaysia as an Islamic state or indirectly permit it to evolve into, or even encourage its development as, an Islamic state? Or did they seek to preclude that direction of development?

Recent controversies now pose the question whether there has been any change in the nation's formative "social contract" and, if so, whether it has been openly negotiated and imposed?

There are fundamental questions that will not go away. They remain basic to the nature of the Malaysian state and citizenship in it. They cannot simply be wished away or finessed into irrelevance.

These issues are addressed in this small collection of essays. Together they clarify the origins in political philosophy of the term "social contract", trace its largely unacknowledged modification as it was imported into and adapted to the Malaysian context, and explore the uses to which in its refashioned form it has been put in Malaysian politics.
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