LETTER | Let’s sit down and talk, and work out a solution for a better, united Malaysia. I would like to propose a nationwide, inter-racial, and inter-religion Pan-Malaysian Dialogue and Compromise to reduce the level of misunderstanding between the races of Malaysia for a more harmonious and united Malaysia.
Since the formation of the new government after GE14, I have been closely following all the news on social media. My observation so far was that our netizens are always divided along racial and religious lines when the very same piece of news is presented on different pages across different language platforms. While it is not uncommon to see negative comments on these pages, there has been an alarming increase in the use of extremist and foul language from across all the races and religions in Malaysia.
Part of this division and lack of unity can be attributed to the “divide and rule” policy implemented by the British during the colonial times to consolidate their rule over Malaya. Even after we gained independence in 1957, many of the legacies of this “divide and rule” policy can still be seen and felt today.
One example of which is how our former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) was organised – a Malay party (Umno), a Chinese party (MCA), and an Indian party (MIC).
I envision a Pan-Malaysian Dialogue for Malaysians of all races and religions from all walks of life to sit down for a serious dialogue. In this dialogue, we can freely talk about the concerns, issues, needs and wants of our respective communities. For example, the Malay and Chinese communities may voice out their concerns and opinions on issues such as Icerd and UEC.
This dialogue could start with local, town-level dialogues, intra-campus dialogues or even dialogues between religious institutions, followed by state-level dialogues and then a national-level dialogue where a final list of concerns, needs, and wants of each community can be drawn up. There should be an equal representation of participants from all races, all age groups, all income brackets, and all genders.
Who should organise these dialogues? While it should have been more appropriate for political entities to initiate these dialogues, I believe that it could be very hard for them to do it as doing so might cost them the support of the very community in which his/her political career depended on.
Therefore, I would like to propose for NGOs, research centres, think-tanks, and religious organisations to organise and run these dialogues. Politicians from both sides of the bench may also attend and give a piece of their mind in these dialogues.
After understanding the concerns, needs, and wants of different communities, we should also work out a Pan-Malaysian Compromise. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, compromise is an agreement of settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. It is time, my fellow Malaysians, that we face this inconvenient truth, sit down, and work out a compromise.
In this Compromise, the communities should first work out a list of concessions that they are willing to give up or at least soften their stance on for the interests of national unity. Then, all the communities should work together to draft out their vision for a future Malaysia in terms of inter-racial and inter-religion relations. Yes, a vision takes time to achieve, but we have to start somewhere, right?
It is time, my fellow Malaysians, that we sit down again to understand each other and work out a compromise. Our founding fathers also sat down and worked out a compromise that enabled the formation of Malaya and later Malaysia. If that compromise is no longer suitable for a modern, 21st century Malaysia, then we should sit down and work out a new compromise that is more suitable for the Malaysia of the 21st century.
Remember, the current Brexit chaos in the UK happened because nobody is willing to budge and compromise. This same chaos might happen to Malaysia in the future if we do not talk and work out a compromise now.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.