COMMENT When Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak started his 1Malaysia concept in 2010, it was an honourable initiative. 1Malaysia is about unity in diversity and inclusiveness, it means accepting and celebrating our differences, not mere tolerance or respect.
In our journey towards becoming a developed nation, no group should be marginalised on any element of its background. Hence, social justice lies at the heart of this concept.
Unfortunately, this concept seems to be wavered due to the political struggles of certain parties. It takes much more than the formation of non-governmental groups, publicity campaigns, forums, etc, to make an impact on equality.
The major challenge in having an egalitarian Malaysian society is consistency and strong political will.
I urge the prime minister, and all political leaders (including those in the opposition), to strive for an egalitarian society based on humanitarian and democratic principles.
I know that whatever noble concept or policy is initiated, there will still be racists, bigots or groups antagonising it, in the name of race or religion, for fear of losing power or simply because of inferiority complex.
It is not difficult to mention names of such people or groups.
Malaysians need to be convinced it is in their interest to create a more harmonious, peaceful and prosperous nation, which could be the end result of any campaign to inform the public about the dangers of racism or discrimination.
We also need to find ways of uplifting the majority of people and decreasing the gap between the rich and the poor.
Part of how we do this is by creating opportunities that are accessible to everyone. This will be in line with our Federal Constitution, which talks about how everyone should have equal access to opportunities, whether these are social, political or economic.
Many beliefs based on ignorance
So many of our beliefs are based on ignorance or mere denial, especially by political leaders who in turn influence or exploit the people.
Like it or not, at the heart of all the discrimination surfacing recently is a lack of respect for Malaysians of different races, gender and backgrounds.
This is where education and awareness play an important role. There is also a strong need to recommit ourselves to the values enshrined in the Federal Constitution and to preserve and strengthen our unity.
If leaders are allowed to be racist and irresponsible, then what is to stop their supporters from doing the same?
One must not only know what one is opposing but also must know what one is striving towards.
I am glad there are organisations and individuals consistently promoting moderation among Malaysians. I hope all media will do the same as the forefront to nurture and ensure the resounding triumph of moderation and reason over extremism.
Let's stop the nonsense of winning elections via racial polarisation or taking sides for economic advancement. It is long overdue, for regardless of backgrounds, Malaysians are all for the nation.
ANDY YONG is the deputy Youth chief of Gerakan.