Idris Jala: Why must I be Malaysian first?


By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 01, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 – Datuk Seri Idris Jala said today that nationality, race and religion are of equal importance when determining an individual’s true Malaysian identity.

As such, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the “Malaysian first, Malay next” dilemma should not arise as being Malaysian as well as Malay are different matters and are both important.

“I get upset with people stuck with this whole Malaysian first dilemma. Why must I be Malaysian first and Malay second?” he said when dissecting the 1 Malaysia concept during his keynote address at an intercultural dialogue this afternoon.

The Sarawakian Christian minister, who served as mediator between the religious community and the government during the Alkitab bibles row last year, said race, nationality and religion contribute equally to a person’s identity and should not be placed in a contest against one another.

He added that by insisting that the “Malaysian” tag should supercede others, it was tantamount to saying that the hand is more important than the leg or vice-versa.

“My name is Idris, that is my name, my identity. Kelabit is the tribe I was born in.

“I belong to a group called the Orang Ulu. I am Sarawakian, I am Malaysian, I am Asian.

“They are all individual identities that are equally as important – you cannot say one is more important than another,” he said.

Jala added that under the 1 Malaysia concept, an “ideal world” would be for society to comprise those who are proud to call themselves Malaysians, friends who mix with those of all backgrounds, schools with a healthy mix of races and religions, residential areas with a similarly diverse make-up and a system of social support that is needs and not merits-based.

In such a world, said Jala, Malaysians would have achieved “level two and level three” of the 1 Malaysia concept, which is accepting and celebrating diversity.

The “Malaysian first, Malay next” dilemma hit the headlines first in 2010 when DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang challenged Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to declare if he placed his national identity above his race.

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  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 - 10:54 pm

    Remember that ‘patriotic song’ in Malay that goes with the words ‘….untuk agama, bangsa dan negara…’ ?

    They keep playing it over the radio all the time.

  2. #2 by cintanegara on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 - 10:57 pm

    Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin …thats the best TAGLINE to describe DAP’s hypocrisy….The slogan of Malaysian first is just rhetoric repeated mindlessly by DAP…..Is DAP sincere with the slogan Malaysian first??? Well, if they are sincere…then they should encourage their people to send their children to the NATIONAL SCHOOL, mingle with other races, speak BAHASA KEBANGSAAN etc….

    Take the first step by educating the concept of “Malaysian first” at a very young age. The relevant platform is at the NATIONAL SCHOOL.. it’s easy to talk about something but harder to actually do it…..LEAD BY EXAMPLE LA……

  3. #3 by PoliticoKat on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 - 11:01 pm

    Well… I guess that is that. At least he was honest.

    Idris Jala has stated his peace. Sadly I don’t think his feelings are unique or odd for a Malaysian minister. Even our DPM doesn’t consider himself a Malaysian first. With what our DPM has stated, he could well be a a random Malay guy from Indonesia working in Malaysian.

    Malaysia, I pity her.

    Even her Leaders are not even putting her well being as number 1. Maybe that is why Malaysia is in such poor health.

  4. #4 by PoliticoKat on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 - 11:07 pm

    @cintanegara

    Datuk Seri Idris Jala is not a DAP politician. He is from BN.

    THIS IS BN LEADERSHIP. Leading by EXAMPLE. BN has the entire history of Malaysia to do. And this is what BN is doing.

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 - 11:16 pm

    Idris Jala is merely helping Umno to fish votes!

  6. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 - 11:27 pm

    cintanegara, “slogans and words are just slogans and words. Actions always show your real intention. without any doubt you are one of them who benefitted from the ill-gotten application of NEP to the extent you refused to admit the fact that POOR MALAYS are left on the wayside! maybe you could be Ibrahim Ali or even Hasan Ali! in spite of all their shouting of helping the Malay community, they interests always come first. Just ask Ibrahim Ali to declare in his career how much cash he had taken under UMNo and has squandered it through his St……dity! and wantonness. For that matter, you could count with all your fingers and toes of even pseudo-Malays who stole the nation blind and yet you said it was alright! you could only be one of them hence fighting to keep the status quo!

  7. #7 by monsterball on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 1:27 am

    I am cintanegara. I am an idiot first…I come from the tribe of donkey kong…I am Asian…i am Malaysian.

  8. #8 by monsterball on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 1:36 am

    Idris Jala is saying race first…malaysian second..ok….which means…minangkabau first..hokkien first..hakka first…tamil nadu first..ALL OK!
    China …Japan …America is laughing at our smart people…how to unite as Malaysians.
    Imagine if Idris Jala apply to be an America citizen and utter like that…”CANCELLED” will be the chop and ask him to get lost.
    Any more smart ideas how to unite and be Malaysians?

  9. #9 by k1980 on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 2:12 am

    http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/187947

    Those Chinks should had said to Abraham Ah Lee–”We don’t want your RM10 in the peh pows. We only want the same status as you enjoy under the NEP. After all, why are rich people such as you enjoying NEP privileges while poor Chinks such as us subsisting in squalor are denied the status?”

  10. #10 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 3:27 am

    There is always a position or situation allowing for two choices where, as what Idris Jala said, to prioritize one alternative or objective does not necessarily conflict with or denigrate the other alternative or objective. For eg. one can speak well of one’s race and culture that does not necessarily imply one denigrates or speaks less well of or acts contrary to interest of Malaysians of different races as a whole. To otherwise pose and force a choice between two positions said to be in conflict where none actually exists, is, indeed, a false and unnecessary dilemma. Having said this, there are also other situations where the relentless pursuit of a course or policy favouring exclusively the interest and dominance of one’s race will definitely be at odds with, expense and detriment of the interests of Malaysians of other diverse races as a whole under banner of ’1 Malaysia’, thereby posing a genuine dilemma. Idris cannot, in all seriousness and honesty, pretend that such second situation of genuine dilemma/conflict does not exist. In fact, it is disingenuous for him to use the presence of some instances of false dilemma to argue and imply that instances of genuine dilemma do not or cannot exist.

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 4:09 am

    NOTHING shocking 1, dis kind of statement fr ruling parties – MOST RACE-based what
    Not just RACE-based, TRIBE-based too (most elementary human grp structure)
    So, what 2 do, UmnoB/BN kakis hv TRIBAL instinct n think tribal 4 survival, exclusive
    NOT d type 2 really think abt NATIONAL n inclusive, very SAD lor

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 4:11 am

    While we muck around, monkey around, other nations ZIP past us
    Myanmar is d latest 2 roar n open up, it will surpass us 1 in many areas soon

  13. #13 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 8:03 am

    OMG. HE DID screw-up MAS…Unbelievable – THIS is why Malaysian overseas should NOT buy into BN campaign to bring people back..The man should have just stayed with Shell..

  14. #14 by dagen on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 9:00 am

    Yes of course burma will overtake us. You are right boh liao. This is because burmese are very very enterprising. In my reckoning, they are more business minded than indons, banglas and even (I believe) mamaks. If umno is voted into office for another term we might just see the reality of losing out to burma come true.

    “ABU”

  15. #15 by Winston on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 10:51 am

    Boh-liao, no need to be sad lor.
    After five and a half decades of ruling this country, they still
    cannot unite all citizens of this country as Malaysians, what
    are we to do?
    We know exactly what to do!
    Go all out to dump them in the next GE.
    Make very sure everyone you know get the message.
    Now, it’s not at all difficult to understand why many in the major
    party in the ruling coalition want to be Malay first.
    Because that identifies them with the major race; a race that
    hold the trump card in any election.
    They are thinking that if they toady up with the majority race,
    their chances of being elected in the next GE are much brighter!
    So, after five and a half decades of ruling this country, it is as
    fractured as ever, with every citizen identifying himself/herself
    as Chinese, Malays, Indians etc and an everyone for himself/
    herself attitude.
    Is this what we want for our country?
    What we need, really need, is a completely revamped attitude
    like the Malaysian first concept of the PR.
    A unifying concept that will project the greatness of Malaysia
    and Malaysians with everybody contributing their share to
    make the country greater than the races that populate it.
    Instead, what we find now is a ruling party that panders to
    the majority race, hoping to win on this concept so that they
    can hold on to power till eternity.
    This lopsided treatment of the minority races may cause them
    to slacken their contribution to nation building and, instead of
    having a dynamic and forward looking nation, we will forever be
    stymied in a lethargic state.
    So, to bring this country out of the morass, let us all vote very,
    very, very wisely in the next GE!

  16. #16 by laisam63 on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 1:58 pm

    mr Cintanegara,
    We dont send our kid to National school has NOTHING to do with RACE or RELIGION. It’s the quality of the education…….. Don’t you UNDERSTAND ???? If National School can match the quality….. we have no problem.

  17. #17 by jus legitimum on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 4:23 pm

    Just look across the narrow channel of about 2km to the south,why are they so vibrant and proressive.They are devoid of all the rich natural resources.We are the Kingdom of rubber,oil palm,once even tin,we also have petroleum,big land and cultivable areas.But why we still lose out to the tiny island.It is because we have NEP,Ketuanan Melayu,we give handouts to certain people,we have uncontrollable corruption,we emphasize mediocrity,our traffic jam is horrible,our public transport is shameful.Everyday we complain we are divided by race and religion but our neighbour do not.Our public amenities are in disarray whereas theirs are tip top.Enough is enough.Jom Ubah.

  18. #18 by DCLXVI on Thursday, 2 February 2012 - 4:45 pm

    cintanegara :Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin …thats the best TAGLINE to describe DAP’s hypocrisy….The slogan of Malaysian first is just rhetoric repeated mindlessly by DAP…..Is DAP sincere with the slogan Malaysian first??? Well, if they are sincere…then they should encourage their people to send their children to the NATIONAL SCHOOL, mingle with other races, speak BAHASA KEBANGSAAN etc….
    Take the first step by educating the concept of “Malaysian first” at a very young age. The relevant platform is at the NATIONAL SCHOOL.. it’s easy to talk about something but harder to actually do it…..LEAD BY EXAMPLE LA……

    So, what about those BN politicians who don’t send their kids to our local national schools?

  19. #19 by boh-liao on Friday, 3 February 2012 - 1:11 am

    Dis 出卖 Chinese fella is truly 卑鄙 n 卖华求荣走狗 stooge
    He took some 50 ppl to Perkosa’s CNY open house in Kampung Baru 2 b insulted by iBra
    助桀为虐, 这简直是对华人的赤裸裸的侮辱
    With a surname like Tiew, no wonder ppl tiew him kuat2 lor
    No wonder ppl called him a QUISLING, 遗臭万年
    Truly PITY his parents n children (if he has) n relatives 2 hv 2 live with this 卑鄙无耻下流, 受民垂弃 QUISLING

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