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Be fair and inclusive, not divisive

  • The government should come out against racist and unrighteous remarks but has surprisingly been so quiet!

By Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam

Almost all Malaysians were shocked and deeply disappointed by the divisive discussions that took place at the recent "Rise of the Ummah" Convention.

It was even more depressing to hear that Datuk Raof Husin, a senior former education officer, urged the government to return the exclusive right of government scholarships to bumiputra students and not to give them to others.

For crying out loud, what was Datuk Raof doing right through his long career in the education service? Was he promoting or degrading national unity?

I wonder how he got away with this anti-national unity attitude? Has he got many followers and our people can legitimately ask whether our government is condoning this negativity and divisiveness?

The other shocker emerging from this conservative convention was the equally damaging statement by Muslim cleric Ismail Mina Ahmad.

In his comments, Ismail reportedly tried to erase the great patriotic contributions and ultimate sacrifices by non-Malays in the armed forces and Royal Malaysian Police, in the defence of our dear country.

How can anyone be so unfair and discriminatory to our fellow Malaysian citizens, unless of course, they are blatantly racist?

Commendable reaction

It's most welcome that MCA President Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai met with 90 NGOs and roundly asserted that it is important that all are given equal opportunities to attain a higher level of education.

It is also laudable that Azrul Mohd Khalib, spokesman of secular group Bebas, has boldly called on Malaysians to reject the demands of this narrow, negative and conservative convention.

Bebas has rightly pointed out to the real need to focus on the future, where we do not need to depend on racial discrimination and bigotry to succeed

Many other loyal individuals and organizations have also bravely spoken up.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Taoism led by its president Datuk RS Mohan Shan, MIC treasurer-general Datuk Seri S Vell Paari, MCA Religious Harmony Bureau Chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker, have all stoutly criticized this threat to national unity from the parochial conservative convention.

Government's response

But with all this furor, the government has surprisingly been so far so quiet!

Why so? I wonder. Is it because of the approaching GE!?

On the contrary, the government should come out against racist and unrighteous remarks. The government is indeed expected by all right-thinking Malaysians and especially voters, to state its firm stand against such divisive and disruptive remarks that are against historical facts, national unity and the future of non-Malays in this country.

Both former educationist Datuk Raof and the religious cleric Ismail Mina Ahmad have apparently violated the spirit of our precious Constitution and Rukunegara, which provide the foundations of our national unity, fairness, justice and socioeconomic progress.

The question that rises in the public's mind is: Shouldn't the government take the lead by expressing its official stand against attempts to cause public restlessness, disharmony and even unrest?

In fact, the authorities could be reasonably expected to take appropriate actions under the laws of this country against those who undermine national unity.

So many Malaysians would appeal to the government to please be fair, inclusive and actively promoting national unity of this country. This is particularly pertinent, at this time, before the GE14.

This positive move by the government will benefit all patriotic Malaysians, who will be grateful for the government's leadership to effectively promote greater peace and harmony in our nation.

(Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam is the Chairman of ASLI Center for Public Policy Studies.)



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