Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s recipe yesterday for national reconciliation, national unity and to help inspire Malaysians to respect and rec-connect with one another has been immediately put to the test today by another vitriolic article by Utusan Malaysia editor, Datuk Zaini Hassan in his article warning that a minister’s suggestion to remove “race” from official forms was the first step to convince Malays to surrender their bumiputera status and other privileges afforded to the community.
Najib proposed to Malaysians that “We don’t have to condemn them, just ignore them” as the best way to respond to the demands and vitriol of the instigators and extremists, adding: “Don’t give them the air time or the publicity” they crave.
The problem is that such vitriolic articles, inciting racial and religious animosities and hatred, is not the work of individuals but of the official newspaper of UMNO, the backbone of Barisan Nasional government, like the Utusan Malaysia editor’s article today entitled “Orang Melayu sudah tidak peduli dengan bangsa sendiri?” (Malays no longer care for their own race?) and is given full oxygen by the UMNO’s official media, and which will be given full dissemination in the UMNO/BN-controlled empire of printed, electronic and social media.
Is Najib seriously suggesting that Utusan Malaysia should be given a free hand to pump vitriol and stoke racial and religious animosities, including attack on a Cabinet Minister entrusted with the portfolio of national integration and unity – and that this is Najib’s way to national reconciliation and national unity in Malaysia?
Why is Najib condoning Utusan Malaysia and other UMNO leaders to continue with their irresponsible and reckless campaign to panic Malays and Muslims in the country with the false impression that Malays and Islam in Malaysia are under grave threat and siege?
I fully agree with columnist Karim Raslan who yesterday wrote about the “irony” of irresponsible and reckless elements who want to cause an all-round panic that Malays and Islam are under siege, when “the community has never had more reason to feel ‘safe’ than today”.
In his article “National reconciliation is the way forward” in the Star yesterday, Karim wrote:
“As I’ve argued many times before – the irony is that the community has never had more reason to feel ‘safe’ than today.
“We constitute 65% of Malaysia’s population.
“We dominate political life, the civil service and the military besides which we are steadily increasing our representation in the private sector, thanks to the New Economic Policy.
“Why the Malays still feel embattled is beyond the scope of this article.
“But like it or not, change in Malaysia cannot come without the Malay community spearheading it.
“This is the reality by virtue of the community’s sheer size – a factor that also means that we must lead as well.
“But leadership has its responsibilities – responsibilities that force us to take care not only of ourselves but also of our fellow citizens.”
Karim has put his finger on the nub of the problem affecting nation building, national reconciliation and the very leadership of Najib as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia – whether he is prepared to be Prime Minister for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region and whether he is prepared to shoulder the responsibilities entailed in being Prime Minister not just of one race or religion but of all races and religions in Malaysia.
If Najib wants to the Prime Minister for all Malaysians, he should not just ignore the incitements of racial and religious animosities to cause racial chaos and religious conflagration but he should declare “long-delayed” war and give no quarter to the instigators and extremists who want to destroy the fabric of Malaysia’s plural society, whether they emanate from UMNO, Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat.
He should sack the Utusan Malaysia editor Datuk Zaini Hassan for openly defying his National Reconciliation Plan or give him an ultimatum to face such a sack if he continues to defy the government programme of national reconciliation.
Finally, let us await as to whether Najib will stand by his Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup who is entrusted with the portfolio of national integration, national unity and national reconciliation and who is coming under attack by the instigators and extremists in our midst.
(Media Statement in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 26th February 2014)