A plea for unity

— Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 24, 2012

FEB 24 — I am indeed honoured to have been invited to speak to all of you gathered here this morning on a subject of great importance for the continued preservation and survival of our nation.

As all of you are aware, our nation became free from the fetters of colonial domination about five-and-a-half decades ago.

Sadly and strangely, after 55 years of independence, I think we are farther apart now than we have ever been before.

On August 31, 1957 our freedom from the shackles of a colonial past was greeted with euphoria by the different races who came together on the basis of a common vision for a shared future.

We then had a prime minister who believed that the purpose of independence was the pursuit of happiness for the different races in the country, and our success in that pursuit was to him the ultimate test of our success as a nation.

Tunkuʼs vision for the newly independent nation was based on the “greatest happiness principle”, a subject of intense political discourse in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe.

Like the enlightened political philosophers in the western world, our father of independence believed that governments existed to provide for the happiness of the people, and nothing more.

“For us in the Alliance we have no dogma other than to ensure happiness for the people,” the Tunku once said.

Tunku recognised that individual happiness was tied up with collective happiness, and that sometimes we needed to sacrifice our own comforts willingly so that people from another community were not deprived of happiness.

Like Jeremy Bentham, the great English philosopher would have it, Tunku therefore favoured policies that would bring the greatest happiness to the greatest number of Malaysians.

In his words, “what I gave to one, I also gave to others. In this way, we made everybody happy. This has always been my aim.”

In fact, according to him, “that is what I live for, to ensure peace, happiness and prosperity for our Malaya which we all love so well.”

Tunkuʼs policies were tied up with the golden rule that we must have respect for one another and treat others just as we wish others to treat us.

This golden rule was an important principle in an interdependent, multi-ethnic society such as ours.

Tunkuʼs basic concept of happiness is best expressed in his favourite maxim, “live and let live”.

It is a maxim that calls for acceptance of people as they are, although they may have a different way of life. Tunku applied the maxim in the public domain.

Tunku was a real father to the nation, as expressed in these words, “… I am a happy prime minister and I have cause to be so. I can feel the pulse of this nation; I am not the prime minister of this nation, but the father to all the peoples who live here.”

If Tunku had boasted that he was the happiest prime minister in the world, it was only because the people were happy. In Tunkuʼs words at that time, “I pray and hope that this happy state of affairs will continue for all times.”

Unfortunately, however, Tunkuʼs dreams were dashed to dust by the events of May 13, 1969.

This once happiest prime minister expressed the pain he felt as Father of Merdeka as he relived those traumatic moments:

“I have often wondered why God made me live long enough to have witnessed my beloved Malays and Chinese citizens killing each other.”

Such was the man that Tunku was. He was the moving spirit of the nation.

Tunku has long gone, and today his premiership is a distant memory. Since the time he left, inter-ethnic relations have taken a turn for the worse on all fronts.

Today, we have a regime that promotes the concept of 1 Malaysia with all its contradictions.

We have an official document that explains the 1 Malaysia concept as a nation where every Malaysian perceives himself as Malaysian first, and by race second.

However, we have a leader who openly transgresses his own official policy by declaring that he is “Malay first” and “Malaysian second”.

The statement comes as a severe blow not just to the concept of 1 Malaysia, but also as a nullification of Jiwa Malaysia or the National Spirit that Tunku was trying hard to inculcate.

No wonder that people can no longer recognise the jiwa — they just donʼt feel as though they are fully Malaysian.

It is strange that after 55 years of freedom, we have not learnt the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

The countryʼs source of strength is unity, and this source of strength has been slowly whittled away over the years.

We have become a nation of strangers, as evidenced in the fields of politics, the economy, education and the civil service.

The strong presence of communal political parties in the country is chiefly to be blamed for the sad state of race relations in the country. These political parties invariably support racial policies and imbibe racial sentiments among the people whom they represent.

In their day-to-day administration of the country, the powers that be often give scant regard to the constitutional provision contained in Article 8(1) which states that “all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”; and Article 8(2) which states that “there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment”.

One major sore point in the area of race relations is the New Economic Policy, whose original intention to create unity has been subverted to become a major source of disunity not only between the various races but also among the Malays and Bumiputeras in general.

The New Economic Policy, which was conceived in 1971 not long after the Tunku had retired as prime minister, was primarily created to address poverty, and to raise the level of Malay participation in the economy.

It was intended for all Malaysians, and not just for the Malays or Bumiputeras.

As a former finance minister, let me emphasise that it was never the intention of the NEP to create an incubated class of Malay capitalists.

If we visit the government departments or universities, we wonder where all the non-Malays have gone.

After 1969, suddenly there was this attempt to recruit mostly Malays into the civil service.

It is tragic that the civil service does not reflect the racial composition of the Malaysian population, as the predominant presence of only one race tends to engender a sub-culture that is antithetical to the evolution of a dynamic and efficient civil administration in the country.

Our school system is not as it used to be. The non-Malays prefer to send their children to vernacular schools, as the national schools have assumed an exclusively Malay character.

Needless to say, national schools have become even less attractive to the non-Malays as English is no longer used in the teaching of mathematics and science.

The situation will be very different if all discriminatory practices in the education system were to be abolished, and a common system of education for all is adopted.

National unity is the one area that we cannot afford to ignore, and the real genesis of national unity, I submit, is from an unlikely source: Parliament, warts and all.

It is the Parliament that has the final say in charting the direction the country is heading to.

We must have a strong and resolute government which recognises the needs of all Malaysians, and formulates the right policies for the propagation of a cohesive and integrated society.

If Parliament enacts policies that are just and fair for all Malaysians based on meritocracy and need, more than half the battle for national unity would be won.

In this respect, the rakyat as voters must realise that in the ultimate they alone hold the key to the future of this country.

* This is the text of the speech by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah at the Breakfast Meeting at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre organised by Paddy Schubert Sdn Bhd on February 24, 2012.

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 3:11 pm

    Ku Li. Why do you only say such things now on 24th February 2012?

    Where were you in 1975, 80, 85 etc? Why didn’t you voice your opinion all these years to remind the governments of the day that they have strayed from the aims of the NEP and that things are going awry ? Did you play your part all these years? Even your latest effort AMANAH has gone cold.

    What is your agenda for voicing out today?

  2. #2 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 3:19 pm

    No no no. But we can still be happy, even today. The rule of the game has change a little. WTF, no big deal. Here is how the changed rule goes:

    “Accept fully, wholeheartedly and unquestioningly the principle of ketuanan umnoputra and then everyone in the country would be happy.”

    All hail jibby. ALL HAIL JIBBY!

  3. #3 by k1980 on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 3:20 pm

    //speech by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah at the Breakfast Meeting at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre organised by Paddy Schubert Sdn Bhd//

    This speech should be made in Parliament so that all BN Mps could listen, not at at the Breakfast Meeting at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre

  4. #4 by SENGLANG on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 3:29 pm

    I share the same feeling as sheriff singh why Ku Li spoken that we have dear to hear all this long? Any way it is better than none and wish more of these people will voice up

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 4:15 pm

    Tunku a happy PM? For how long? TDM said before politicians who played the race card seemed more successful. Now TDM had a reign for 22 years and even after that still pulled the correct strings. Nobody could say he’s less happy. Ku Li’s words are uplifting -based on right moral compass- and definitely suited for this kind of address to a “Breakfast Meeting” but to Ku Li many would ask, “what are you doing by deeds to set the course right???” (Malaysia won’t get better by beautiful inspirational words unmatched by deeds!) This question does not even take into account what his past role to create the kind of debilitating political culture we witness today!

  6. #6 by sotong on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 4:50 pm

    Our ” leaders ” knew of the unhealthy and unfair environment damaging the country, but for narrow, shallow and divisive politics, they let it carry on to gain the ” advantage “.

  7. #7 by yhsiew on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 5:00 pm

    Perhaps some of our politicians are blinded by ethnocentrism.

    Ethnocentrism is a major reason for divisions amongst members of different ethnicities, races, and religious groups in society. Ethnocentrism is the belief of superiority is one’s personal ethnic group, but it can also develop from racial or religious differences.

    Ethnocentric individuals believe that they are better than other individuals for reasons based solely on their heritage. Clearly, this practice is related to problems of both racism and prejudice.

    Many people may not realize that ethnocentrism occurs everywhere and everyday at both the local and political levels.

  8. #8 by cseng on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 5:18 pm

    Martin Lurther King has a dream, in which, after decades, realize by American thru Obama. Tunku, did have a dream, a dream which not being made known, after decades, shattered by Malaysian thru their leaders.

    I don’t know Tunku, but I do watch P Ramli’s movies, his movies are what/how Tunku’s see Malaysia then, as a happy PM. Watch TV3 and their news today, can you be a happy Malaysian? Can Tunku be a happy PM now? But currently PM is happy, somehow.

  9. #9 by Loh on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 5:38 pm

    ///(Free Malaysia Today) – Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended his reign and implementation of the New Economic Policy (NEP) following criticism from Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

    Mahathir said the race-based affirmative action framework had also bred non-Malay billionaires like Vincent Tan and Robert Kuok, the Berjaya Group founder and sugar tycoon who made their fortunes under the NEP.///–MalaysiaToday

    NEP was bastardized by Mamakthir whether or not only Malays were made tycoons. Mamakthir is a true racial opportunist when he chose to defend his corrupt practices by claiming that non-Malays were among his cronies. He considers others stupid to believe that a couple of exceptions negate the rule.

  10. #10 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 5:50 pm

    Oh yes I see happy umnoputras everywhere with billions in their pockets and a hundred kg of fat in and around their body cells and in their arteries.

    Oh boy they sure are one happy lot.

  11. #11 by Loh on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 7:43 pm

    It is better late in being enlightened than never. Mamakthir is still insisting that he is not wrong in misusing NEP into enriching his cronies and he listed a few non-Malays. Surprisingly he did not list his sons among them.

  12. #12 by Bigjoe on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 8:52 pm

    Is it fate that this speech is given when nerves are starting to fray with UMNO Youth holligans simply losing self-control more frequently?

  13. #13 by Loh on Saturday, 25 February 2012 - 11:28 am

    ///But Umno Youth deputy chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim said it was untrue that the lack of unity was due to government bias pointing out that there are also non-Malay leaders in the civil service///–MalaysianInsider

    There were 70% Malays in civil service when NEP was launched, and they are now more than 90%. NEP fails in dismantling the association of civil service with race, the Malay race, and it made the association more entrenched after 40 years of NEP. There are still a few senior non-Malay civil servants, just like there are a few MCA ministers!

    /// “Around the world conflict is fought over race religion and land In Malaysia we have all three and still the NEP has succeeded in achieving racial harmony.///–MalaysianInsider

    There are semblance of harmony in the country among the leftovers just like there were no hot war between US and Soviet Russia. Non-Malays who cannot stand discrimination have long left Malaysian shores, and more are leaving. They are no doubt paying taxes to the country of their residence, and the income of intellectual properties they produce no doubt accrue to those countries too. Tengku Razaleigh is asking where are the non-Malays, but UMNOputras are happy that they have achieved their objectives.

    ///Has poverty gone down Yes and in any country that gets wealthier many prefer to work in the private sector “But can we promote non-Malays if there are not enough of them in the civil service?///–MalaysianInsider

    When recruitment to civil services has been biased against non-Malays since the advent of NEP, how can there be enough of non-Malays in the civil service? Is it the fault of the people who cannot get recruited into the civil service?
    It is easy to claim the non-Malays chose the private sector. Should they stay unemployed if they are not taken onto civil services?

    ///If there are only a few Chinese or Indians we can’t promote all of them just so we can have an equal number as Malays That would be unjust ” the deputy youth and sports minister said.///–MalaysianInsider

    They are only a few Chinese and Indians because the government chose not to recruit Chinese or Indian into government service. Period. Does the deputy Minister choose to suggest that the Chinese and Indians are not good enough to be appointed, and that they lack the aptitude and intelligence? When has government noticed this? What has there been no affirmative action taken to correct the linkage of Malays to civil service? Was it the plan to have this result openly against the objective of NEP simply because the non-Malay BN parties are pure eunuchs?

  14. #14 by PoliticoKat on Saturday, 25 February 2012 - 11:42 pm

    You know something…what comes to mind is Rhett Butler last words to Scarlett O’Hara in the movie Gone with the Wind,

    “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a d4mn”

    Malaysia has been craft into the image that your party Tengku Razaleigh, UMNO desires.

    Non Malays have but one place in UMNO’s Malaysia…. the enemy… the boggyman that steals from innocent Malay families with their 5 or more children (as per Malaysia’s at least 5 policy… Mahathir wanted a Malaysia of 75 million people remember?)

    My question is, what’s your angle? You are an UMNO man after all. I do know the ol’ Good Cop, Bad Cop routine. Is this UMNO ways of asking the non-malays for help to revitalise the Malaysian economy?

    Well, if so.. make it worth my money and skills. Because I know the moment my usefulness is at an end, I will be shown the door so quickly that my head will spin. I’m a Pendatang remember? My family has only been in Malaysia for about 7 generations.

    Patriotism is not rewarded by Malaysia. I learned that in school.

    So show me the money!

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