This seemingly innocuous question by the Minister without Portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Idris Jala yesterday marked another watershed in the 34-month premiership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
In just two years, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has “given up the ghost” on his signature 1Malaysia policy to create a Malaysia where Malaysians regard themselves as Malaysians first and their race, religion, region or socio-economic status second.
It marked another abandonment of Najib’s grandiloquent “transformation” policies, like the even more short-lived New Economic Model (NEM) which was given an unceremonial burial in three short months.
This was why the theme of my speech in Parliament on the Tenth Malaysia Plan on 21st June 2010 was “Tenth Malaysia Plan: Long live NEP – RIP NEM” although the NEM was unveiled only on 30th March 2010.
In the March 2010 Parliament, I had observed that the Najib Cabinet was full of Ministers who were quite sceptical about the 1Malaysia concept treating it as nothing more than political theatre.
I specifically asked who were the Ministers in the Cabinet who had the 1Malaysia DNA as I could not see anyone, posing two 1Malaysia DNA tests for the Cabinet Ministers:
Is the Minister prepared to declare that the basis of 1Malaysia is “ketuanan rakyat Malaysia” and not “ketuanan Melayu”?; and
Is he or she prepared to endorse the objective of 1Malaysia as defined by the 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme (GTP) Roadmap launched in January 2010 to create a nation where every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, region or socio-economic status second by declaring that he or she is Malaysian first and ethnicity second?
To demonstrate that I not trapping the Ministers with a trick question, I made the following declaration in Parliament:
“I declare that I am Malaysian first and Chinese second. Is every Cabinet Minister prepared to make a similar declaration?”
No Cabinet Minister dared to respond to me inside Parliament. After much prompting and challenge, the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin declared outside Parliament that he was “Malay first” and then only a Malaysian.
In the past two years, apart from the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who courageously declared: “Yes, I am a Malaysian first and Malay next. Does any bigot have a problem with that?” in an open letter to Utusan Malaysia, all the other Cabinet Ministers have been on the run on the issue.
Even the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak dodged this question when he was asked by Malaysian students at the Malaysian Student Leaders Summit (MSLS) in Kuala Lumpur in July last year on what he thought of Muhyiddin’s infamous remark of being “Malay first and Malaysian next.”
Najib came out with the poor and weak excuse that he did not want to “respond in a way that will divide me from my deputy”, adding: “1 Malaysia is our guiding philosophy. It does not matter what you say, just as long as you follow (the 1 Malaysia concept)”. (The Malaysian Insider)
I have no doubt that if Idris had been pressed two years ago to declare his personal stand on 1Malaysia policy, he would have declared that he was a Malaysian first and Kelabit second.
But now he gives a long, rambling and ludicrous reply: “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.”
Clearly a long drawn-out tussle for the soul of the 1Malaysia policy had been waged in UMNO in the past two years, and the hardliners have won the battle.
This is why under Najib’s premiership, extremists are increasingly having a field day as shown by Utusan Malaysia, UMNO’s official newspaper, allowed to shout from the rooftops their incendiary lies and falsehoods to create stoke racial hatreds and incite religious tensions.
This is why racial and religious polarisation are at their worst in the nation’s history under Najib’s 1Malaysia when they should at their best if 1Malaysia policy is a serious and meaningful Prime Ministerial policy instead of being an empty and hollow one!
This is not a good sign for Najib’s 1Malaysia policy, his various transformation programmes or his recent call on the moderates to unite and to speak out against the extremists.
Now the Minister responsible for articulating and implementing Najib’s signature 1Malaysia policy has been assigned the task of dismantling and burying it!
With the 1Malaysia stripped of its soul and purpose, only 1Malaysia gimmicry and bric-a-bracs are left.
Very sad indeed and a most pathetic end to Najib’s 1Malaysia policy.
Also no point to ask what the other Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who is assigned the task of answering questions in Parliament on 1Malaysia, Senator Dr. Koh Tsu Koon what he has to say.