Malaysiakini News

Pakatan Harapan and the challenge of national integration

Chandra Muzaffar  |  Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | While issues related to human rights, governance and integrity have been very much in the news since May 9, Pakatan Harapan’s view of national integration has hardly been discussed.

In the coalition’s election manifesto there is a proposal to establish a Majlis Perundingan Keharmonian Rakyat (Consultative Council for People’s Harmony).

The MPKR will, among other things, “research and suggest policies and programmes that will enhance unity and integration and eliminate discrimination from our culture.”

It should be observed at this point that a forerunner of Pakatan Harapan, the four-party Barisan Alternatif had proposed a similar entity on April 2, 2001. The Majlis Perundingan Perpaduan Nasional (MPPN) which would also formulate ideas on unity was envisaged as an independent body that would be directly answerable to Parliament. The MPPN was stillborn.

Two of the four parties that endorsed the MPPN are part of the present Harapan. Three out of the four parties in Harapan appeal to ethnic constituencies but in their election campaign, they downplayed ethnic issues and instead highlighted the alleged kleptocracy of the then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, especially in relation to the 1MDB scandal.

Exposing elite corruption and espousing integrity are political postures which have a huge impact upon the electorate, regardless of ethnicity and religion. Indeed, the question of governance as a
whole brings people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds together, which is why it is a potent glue for forging national unity.

But good governance alone is not enough to create a harmonious society. Issues of identity are at the core of most multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies. ‘Malaysian identity’ for instance can be a divisive issue...

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