Royal professor Dr Ungku Abdul Aziz today made a startling claim today that there was no physical social contract between Malaysia's diverse ethnic communities.
"There is no such thing as social contract," said Ungku Aziz, a panelist in the 25th Anniversary Look East Policy Forum in Shah Alam today.
Deviating from his original speech during the event, the celebrated academic said that the social contract was "a fantasy created by politicians of all sorts of colours depending on their interest".
Ungku Aziz said the social contract should rightly be called an "economic contract" to justify affirmative action in areas of education and health for groups that needed it the most.
However, he did not elaborate on the subject and said that he would save it for another forum.
Among the panelist today were former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Public Servide Department director-general Ismail Adam.
But Mahathir disagrees
Speaking at a press conference later, Mahathir however disagreed with Ungku Aziz and stressed that a social contract exists albeit not in written form.
Instead, Mahathir explained that the social contract was an "understanding among founders of the alliance (government)" by Tunku Abdul Rahman.
"Tunku gave one million citizenship to the Chinese, in return, he expected the Chinese would give some support to the demand for independence and to the sharing concept. He didn't spell it (the contract) out 100 per cent, but there was this understanding, not written," he said.
"But it is also reflected in the constitution, every time something is given to the Malays, something is also given to the Chinese and Indians," he added.
Mahathir said the social contract was an understanding that includes sharing of political power and sharing the economic cake, which the bigger portion was given to the bumiputeras.
"So eventually they can catch up with the non-bumiputeras," he said.