– by Clement Ting
– The Malaysian Insider
Feb 02, 2012
FEB 2 — Ever since DS Najib took office on April 3, 2009, “unity” is yet another word used on slogans without much effort to embrace the word for what it truly means. Let’s look at the latest and hottest slogan promoted by our dear PM himself, 1Malaysia.
The 1Malaysia slogan is now everywhere — from Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M), 1Malaysia clinics, 1Malaysia pillars, banners, posters etc. I am not trying to run down the idea as I think this idea has successfully reached everyone from the urban cities to rural areas. However, I feel that it is just an empty slogan with no one taking heed of what it actually means. Furthermore, this 1Malaysia slogan is contradictory in so many ways to the extent that instead of promoting unity, it is possible that it is doing the exact opposite.
Why is it contradictory? To start off, people of different races interpret the meaning differently. Tun Mahathir mentioned in his blog (http://chedet.cc/blog/?p=468) that:
“The Malays generally interpret 1Malaysia to mean real adoption of the national language as the home language by every citizen as happens in other multiracial countries. They also expect the abolition of Chinese and Tamil schools and ensuring the private sector has a fair participation of Malays and other Bumiputeras.”
According to the Constitution, the rights of the Chinese and Indians to continue studying in their vernacular schools are protected. So maybe there is a problem with the understanding of some of these Malays whom Tun M spoke about.
Similarly for the non-Malays, they interpret 1Malaysia as having abolished the rights of Bumiputeras and a fair and equal treatment towards all Malaysians according to article 8 of the Constitution, which talks about equality. This is also an issue because certain quarters assume these rights to be inalienable, and those not accorded similar treatment would feel aggrieved.
Without a proper definition of what is 1Malaysia, it will just be another empty slogan, at best, no matter how effectively the government promotes it. What is more, it may even create complications and arguments on what is truly 1Malaysia.
Let me give you another example on how contradiction to the ideals of 1Malaysia can bring more harm than good. The PM and his Ministers must sing the same song. When the PM personally advocates the ideals of 1Malaysia, his Ministers should not confuse race with nationality. Both serve a priority to us all; one as an individual, the other as a member of a collective group. They cannot confuse these themselves and must set the right example to all of us as Malaysians. As a result of this oversight, PR’s CM Lim Guan Eng declared in retort “I am Malaysian first, and Malaysian last”.
Although our nation is 54 years old, our unity in its purest form is still questionable. Our fathers and theirs before them, would always speak about the good ole’ days where race didn’t matter. They would get involved and immerse themselves in each other’s culture and celebrate their uniqueness. Today, we have to pay thousands of ringgit to produce TV commercials to show how Malaysians are expected to interact and to personify a “false” object of unity. We don’t need to. We just have to understand, embrace and celebrate each other’s differences, uniqueness and strengths.
Malaysians and the culture we have are colourful. How can we expect unity if such wonderful cultures are not embraced?
To make matters worse, recently some extremists demanded that Muslims not celebrate Christmas simply because it is an annual celebration to commemorate the birth of Christ, and that Muslims should not wish others Merry Christmas. What is wrong with Muslims celebrating Christmas? Do they not realise that Nabi Isa, who is also Jesus Christ, is also a prophet in the Quran as well?
Michelle Yeoh once said in an advertisement about a decade ago, “This is Malaysia, truly Asia”. I personally envision and believe that Malaysia, with its many races, dialects, culture, beliefs can one day blend together peacefully to create the truly Asian flavour.
Lots more work must be done than just advertising the current 1Malaysia slogan. We need the Government to be a catalyst to realise this ambition. Our leaders need to truly stand for 1Malaysia, for if they ever wish for a united Malaysia, our leaders themselves must be effective in showing us the path towards unity.
Otherwise, all these hopes of 1Malaysia will just be another dream waiting to be realised.