LETTER | Sixty-five years have passed since the country’s independence. The British in 1957 agreed to give independence to Malaya with the provision that the three major races work out an amicable solution to bring about unity and harmony in the country.
The Chinese and the Indians were given the right to citizenship and the Malays were endowed with their special rights and privileges as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
The vision of the country’s founding fathers was that the country would become a melting pot of different cultures bringing all races together. And that the different ethnic groups would share their cultures and build common values to reflect the nation’s identity.
Racial unity is still best achieved through proper education and this starts at a young age. Unfortunately, the young generation in the country today is still separated through the education system.
The government thus far has not done enough to make the national school the school of choice for the country, unlike many other nations. The country today sees the young attending national, vernacular, religious and even private schools for the well-heeled citizens. This does not bode well for national unity.
More could be done if the national education policy is designed to cater for all Malaysians to be racially mixed. The national school has to be made the school of choice for all Malaysians.
All races have to be given equal opportunities to further their tertiary education and the right to take courses of their choice. Higher education institutions have to be open to all Malaysians, irrespective of their race or religion. National schools and higher education institutions need to be neutral and not be tinkered with to achieve certain political or religious agendas.
As for job opportunities, the civil service and private sector jobs have to be opened up to all races based on merit.
The United Nations Development Programme Report shows that the richest 10 percent in Malaysia control 38.4 percent of the economic income as compared to the poorest 10 percent who control only 1.7 percent.
The economic sector also sees wealth disparity among races. Undeniably, this disparity among races is causing uneasiness, especially among the marginalised cohort of society.
To strive for shared prosperity for all Malaysians, the economic policy has to be needs-based. The poor, irrespective of race, have to be given special consideration in order to uplift their economic well-being.
Let’s not question the Malay rights and privileges as stipulated in the Constitution, but this should not be taken as the gateway to deny the other races their rights as Malaysians.
For the country to progress without racial discord, we need a government that can close this gap and bring economic prosperity and fairness to people of all races.
Religious bigotry has to be nipped in the bud to create a harmonious society. Parochialism that benefits a few power-hungry politicians cannot be tolerated. Racism and harping on religion are not the solution to resolve political, social and economic woes. Politicians who still harp on narrow racial and religious issues to gain power have to be rejected.
Be mindful that religion has always become a divisive force throughout the history of mankind. Intolerance has caused innumerable skirmishes among people of different religions.
Many nations have been embroiled in unwarranted fracases in the name of religion and sect and it has even caused bloodshed and ruined their economies. Resources are wasted and people are seen languishing in poverty.
A civilised society would not condone the fact that there are people of superior and inferior races. No religion condones this doctrine either, as it is against the fundamental rights of all human races.
The majority, however, believe that harping on race and religion to create animosity cannot be the solution for the creation of a stable and prosperous country.
The country needs a government that can bring people of all races and religions together through social justice and fairness.
Divide and rule was the colonial way of oppressing and defeating the people. This cannot be the policy of the government after the country’s independence as Malaysians today are much wiser, more tolerant and know their basic rights as human beings.
Despite their cultural differences, Malaysians of all races are all “wrapped up” into a single nationality. Malaysians are evolving into a nation of people with shared values and contributing to the economic and social well-being of the country.
Malaysians have been working together politically and economically since independence. As such, Malaysians need to be treated fairly, irrespective of race, creed, religion or political affiliation for the country to progress.
The talents of all Malaysians need to be exploited to bring progress to the country. Job creation and fair wealth distribution among the races should be the prime concern of the government.
For a nation to boost its economy and create more jobs, it needs to bring in investors. No political appointees should head GLCs.
For all these to ensue, besides political stability, politicians have to stay away from “making money” for themselves or being corrupt. Corruption is a bane that can destroy a nation.
To gain investor confidence and deter wrongdoings by politicians, it must be seen that the executive branch of the government does not intervene in court matters. The judiciary should therefore remain strictly independent.
For better social justice, the country needs a government that will make all the law enforcement agencies, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), answerable to Parliament and not to the prime minister to prevent abuse of power.
The roles of the attorney-general (AG) and the public prosecutor cannot be held by one person. The two roles have to be separated because of the different nature that they play in upholding the rule of law.
When these two roles are merged, conflicts of interest can occur, especially when the person prosecuted is a political figure aligned with the government of the day. Let an independent AG serve the government to ensure that they act within the law. And let an independent public prosecutor prosecute criminals, no matter who they are, without fear or favour.
It’s vital that a government spends prudently. The spiralling cost of living is making the poor poorer. A country with a population of 32 million does not need a bloated cabinet, as it only serves the interest of politicians and not the people.
The exorbitant salaries, perks and pensions given to ministers and other lawmakers need to be reviewed to be fair to the ordinary citizens, many of whom cannot even earn a decent income to sustain family life. The general public wants more hospitals, better schools, affordable homes and improved public facilities. All these need to be addressed by the next elected government.
If we were politically wrong before, we now need to have it corrected and assiduously find solutions to ensure that the country and its people have a better future.
The way forward to prosperity is when there exists racial unity, a progressive education system, a vibrant economy, a fair distribution of wealth and job opportunities, impartial enforcement bodies, social justice, better public services and a government that is corruption-free.
Therefore, come the next general election, vote wisely to put in a government that will institute major reforms to make the country better for all Malaysians.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.