Former minister Rafidah Aziz has cautioned that politicising race and religion will halt the country’s progress.
Speaking at a business forum in Singapore, she was asked what would hold Malaysia back from realising its full potential.
"Politicising things that shouldn't be politicised, because that will cause a lot of divisiveness, friction and uneasiness.
"For example, politicising education, politicising race - there is really no place for that. Politicising religion… no place whatsoever.
“So, we should be colour-blind to race, religion, and gender, and get on with governance. Governing does not include all these other factors,” she was quoted as saying in Singapore news portal Today Online.
The Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) recently resurfaced in the news after Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki objected to how Pakatan Harapan intends to honour its election promise to recognise it for entry into public tertiary institutions.
PAS has also objected to the appointment of non-Muslims to key legal positions in the country, claiming this had caused “restlessness” among Muslims, and questioned if these appointees would be able to defend Islam in legal matters.
The Islamist party was commenting on the appointments of Tommy Thomas as the attorney-general, senior judge Richard Malanjum as the chief justice and Warisan’s Batu Sapi MP Liew Vui Keong as the de facto law minister.
Bilateral ties fine
On another matter, Rafidah brushed off concerns over Malaysia-Singapore ties under Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Asked for her take on the current state of bilateral affairs following Mahathir’s recent remarks about the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) and the “ridiculous” low price Malaysia sells water to Singapore, she said media reports of such remarks should be taken lightly.
“Relationships are built over many decades. Just one wrong interaction does not reflect the kind of relationship we have built up over the years.
"What you read in the media is not necessarily what transpires.
“I must be the nastiest person around if you just judge by this,” she was quoted as saying.
Singapore had previously said it had not received Putrajaya’s official stance on the HSR, to which Mahathir retorted that the island state "should know what is it we (Malaysia) want to do".
In response to the prime minister’s intention to raise water prices, Singapore had emphasised that the 1962 Water Agreement, which stipulates water be sold at 3 sen per 1,000 gallons, must be honoured.
Rafidah is a close ally of Mahathir's and came out of her retirement from politics to support Harapan during the 14th general election.
She had been part of Mahathir’s cabinet as international trade and industry minister for the most part of his first tenure as premier.