Thursday, July 29, 2010

Time for nation to go beyond race

The '1Malaysia' slogan was coined by newly minted PM Najib Abdul Razak. It was well promoted and the private sector adopted it into their corporate commercials and advertisements. Many Malaysians have said that '1Malaysia' is not a new concept or a place we want to be but is and has always been the Malaysia we all loved.

The re-branding of '1Malaysia' by the current BN administration and making it their slogan perhaps admits that the nation is more fragmented today than it was 30 years ago. The irony of '1Malaysia' is that the BN government herself is divided along racial lines. The three main races in Malaysia are each represented by their respective political parties within the BN government.

Each tasked with fighting for their own communal rights. Right to education in their mother tongue, bumiputera rights, Indian rights etc. The most sensitive issue in Malaysia is one of race and the rights to each race. Each BN component party fights for the rights of each of their own communities.

Recently, MP Ibrahim Ali founded a Malay right wing group called Perkasa. The BN government tries to distance itself from Perkasa but the truth is that MP Ibrahim Ali is a BN friendly MP. The patron saint of Perkasa is the former President of Umno and the longest serving prime minister of Malaysia; Dr Mahathir Mohammad. Few in Umno have come out directly to challenge Perkasa. In fact the deputy president of MCA has come out with the brilliant idea of forming a similar Chinese version of Perkasa.

The quiet Chinese community has looked cautiously upon BN's indifference to Perkasa as a sign that it is indeed perhaps a 'sub-contracted out' arm of Umno. The Umno newspaper Utusan Malaysia gives them coverage and consistently prints venomous racial articles which seek to raise the Malay temperature.

Sarawak and Sabah, two of the richest states in the Malaysian federation have always been the step childen of the BN government. Many of their citizens live below the poverty line and many of whom are bumipuetras. Their land taken away, their young forced into prostitution and their citizenship diluted by acceptance of foreigners as citizens. The two states are rich in natural resources, have beautiful tourists spots and their shores blessed with rich black gold.

However looking at the citizenry, you would never have thought their land amounted to anything. These two states are not only divided from the Peninsular by the South China Sea but are also politically and socially ostracised by the BN government.

So the '1Malaysia' promoted by the BN government is an irony in itself. It is likened to a father who drinks alcohol and then tells his son not to drink and warns him of the evils of drinking. BN is a house divided and its continuation depends upon the nation being divided. Within the BN, there is little genuine trust and love for one another. Many MCA leaders ask me who will look after the interests of the Chinese if the MCA is no more?

Must we continue to look after our own narrow communal interests or can we look after the interest of all Malaysians irrespective of colour, culture and religion? I recall prior to 2008; Anwar Ibrahim, the current federal opposition head said we must ensure that we 'ada kepedulian rakyat' (care for the rakyat).

It is sad to say that I do not think '1Malaysia' would ever return to the way it was 30 years ago under the current BN government. The man who first dreamt of the idea; Dato Onn Jaafar himself was a man before his time. A visionary who saw how it could be and how beautiful it would be. In 1951, after having failed to make Umno a party for all Malaysians, he left to begin his own dream.

He never succeeded in forming one party for all Malaysians irrespective of colour and religion. He was before his time. Dato Onn bin Jaafar would be proud to know that his dream is becoming a reality and that God willing, Pakatan Rakyat will be that party. If anything, there is more unity in Pakatan Rakyat (apart from what the newspapers say) than there is in BN.