The recent self-contradictory remarks by BN leaders remind me of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 19 th century classic ‘The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. Is there a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in the BN administration with a split personality of ‘1Malaysia’ encompassing all but with a racial Umno dominance lording over everyone?

Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak had worked assiduously to impose his rule with a clever marketing strategy of ‘1Malaysia’. Even though ‘1Malaysia’ is short on details but long on creating a feel-good factor (whatever that means), he must be buoyed by favourable poll ratings in the latest surveys.

However, behind the feel-good factor lie somewhat harsh discordant notes sounded by his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Whilst Najib has pushed ‘1Malaysia’ to cut across racial lines to unite all, he has endorsed his deputy’s declaration that he is ‘Malay first, Malaysian second’.

And that ‘1Malaysia’ is somehow consistent with Umno fighting for and being only open to the Malays, the MCA for the Chinese and MIC for the Indians.

Whilst Najib has announced open tenders as part of efforts to establish integrity, DAP PJ Utara MP Tony Pua has exposed the old ways of cronyism and abuses which still abound with companies led by 23-year-olds getting government contracts.

In trying to address the attacks over the fall-out over the Kalimah Allah controversy, Najib has approved a cabinet inter-faith committee. Whilst Najib appears to want discussion with all religious groups, he has allowed his deputy to bluntly dismiss the announcement of the cabinet inter-faith committee by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon as consisting only of ‘small-fry’ without any legal powers.

This does not address public concerns over stolen fighter jet engines from air force bases, expensive billion ringgit submarines that cannot dive, the perceived political persecution of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his sodomy trial and whether Teoh Beng Hock who died on MACC grounds will ever get the justice his grieving family seeks.

It is tempting to portray Muhyiddin as Mr Hyde to Najib’s Dr Jekyll. It is even more tempting to portray Perkasa as Mr Hyde since the BN government is pandering or bowing to its demands at every twist and turn. However, such a simplistic conclusion misses the point.

It is not the individual leaders who are displaying such symptoms but the system itself. The time has come for all Malaysians to look at each other as fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children faced with similar problems and filled with common hopes and aspirations.

For this reason, whilst I will meet with any group seeking a dialogue, I am not keen to initiate discussions on my own with organisations based on a purely communal instead of a Malaysian agenda.

As in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde cannot co-exist. Until the BN government decides once and for all whether it wants to be the Dr Jekyll of ‘1Malaysia’ or the Mr Hyde of ‘1Umno’, ‘1MCA’ or ‘1MIC, Malaysians will remain bereft of direction and purpose.

The writer is chief minister, Penang.

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