Malaysiakini Letter

Racial, religious divides will only set us back

JD Lovrenciear  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The on-going issues relating to the Malaysian constitution are not the sole result of one citizen's death. Sadly, after almost 50 years of self-governance, we are still muddling with matters that we could have overcome. Where then is the root of the problem?

Talk to the man in the street and one would be baffled why the ordinary citizen's sense of goodwill and Malaysian mindset is not reflected in the rhetoric of politicians and those who claim to be the guardians of our constitutional rights.

Everyday we read of clarion calls by various politicians reminding the populace of the need to show greater tolerance between the races. We hear of politicians even daring an apocalyptical reminder that we must be mindful of the sensitivity surrounding religion and race.

But talk to any makcik , amma , or tai sum at the marketplace and they will, without batting an eyelid, frown at what all the fuss is about. The harmony and acceptance of one other despite our origins was never an issue with us, the ordinary folk who form the bulk of the population.

Yet, here today we are rallying to the fore the differences between us. Politicians largely seem to be echoing the dichotomy between the races and their religious beliefs when they should be riding on the unique bond that exists at the ground level.

The mantra of 'divide and rule' is not going to work in this age of technology, communication and globalisation. This, unfortunately is not acceptable to many an elected leader in politics. Cynics and skeptics will also be quick to barge in with the line 'This is not Utopia'.

Perhaps it is time to take the bull by the horns. To begin with here are some bold ideas that politicians and leaders with conviction should revisit and reflect with a clear conscience and without self-interest:

  • The need for a paradigm shift in the way we think, engineer and steer our political party frameworks.

  • The need to stop harping on and conjuring the perception that race and religion are 'sensitive' issues and need to be 'tackled' differently.
  • The need to recognise that more and more of our younger population are coming back home with the ability to see each other as persons who are Malaysians irrespective of their ethnicity or religious beliefs.
  • The need to recognise that this nation can only survive the battle of the 21st century with all of us building on our strengths as Malaysians and not by marginalising each other along racial perceptions.
  • The need to go back to history to re-discover how we earned our independence. Our united nation then - despite the British dividing and ruling - was our anchor as we withstood the Japanese invasion and the communist insurgency.

    Hopefully, as Malaysians with foresight, insight and conviction rally behind our present prime minister, God willing, we will come out of this muddled way thinking and political seizures to emerge as a model nation to the world for harmony.

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