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Thursday, January 24, 2013

1Malaysia concept laid to waste

By Amir Ali | FMT

Need there be more proof that the 1Malaysia concept, built by the Najib Tun Razak government, is yet another failed policy? The recent outburst of a pro-Barisan National speaker at a university forum that went viral is the perfect example of this failure.

The first thing one reads when opening a PDF format of the 1Malaysia booklet, found on the website, is the following policy declaration by the prime minister himself:

“1Malaysia is a concept to foster unity among Malaysians of all races based on several important values that should be the practice of every Malaysian.”

First of all, the launching of the concept by the BN made it clear that the previous governments had failed in cementing the unity among the diverse ethnic groups in Malaysia.

It was, in silence and under the cover of “unity”, an admission that Malaysia had serious racial issues that needed to be ironed out. This kind of admission was not seen under the administration of Dr Mahathir Mohamad or Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

In the past, Malaysia was seen as a united country, with all the ethnic groups behind the BN while only some disgruntled members of the communities supported a divided opposition.

The opposition was always the culprit in attempting to divide the nation, the races and stirring conflicts. Its members were always deemed as “traitors” of the nation. This, of course, was BN ‘s way of demonising the opposition.

Reversal of fortune

BN is still using the same policy in a bid to undermine the rise of Pakatan Rakyat. Yet, the population in general seems to be unfazed by these old, outdated and failed BN strategies.

In those days, it was easy for BN to portray the opposition as a divided force and to win with two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Now the roles have reversed, and this reversal of fortune is damaging to the BN. Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin’s outburst, which was caught on video and went viral, is only the tip of the iceberg of racial division in Malaysia.

In the past, the Indian community was a voter bank for the BN. Only a few brave political figures joined the opposition, championing the Indian cause without much success for decades. It is not true to state that the Indians have been 100% supporters of the BN since Independence.

It is also not true to state that the Indians were always behind the MIC or that the MIC had the interest of the Indian community at heart.

However, what is certain is that a large section of the Indians were behind the BN until 2008 when MIC got a bashing. Today, BN is in panic mode and has been formulating policies to arrest its decline.

But these policies have failed, letting down the BN while the communal division has become more serious than before. It is obvious that the 1Malaysia concept has not helped in healing the divisions in the country. On the contrary, government policies have caused a mini-revolt among supporters of the BN regime.

Is BN listening?

The reason Sharifah Zohra lashed out at undergraduate KS Bawani is that she felt she was from a stronger, more powerful community.

The government’s past policies of protecting one specific community has helped groom people with the twisted thinking that they are superior while others are inferior. Yet, despite all these policies, the community is seen as weak, economically challenged and in need of support.

Still, the community today is economically superior in many ways, and politically stronger. This has sent some of hard core elements into a racial frenzy. It is not the first time that you hear pro-BN speakers urging non-Muslims to leave the country.

It is not the first time that we have been told to shut up, and listen, listen, listen… since that defining year of 2008. There has been a plethora of statements – racially biased and targeted at the minorities – from teachers, professors, political figures and now speakers at pro-BN events.

The failure of 1Malaysia to cement the diverse people into one nation is not because of racist attacks on the minorities, but because of the complete failure by the BN to take action against such racism. None of the people, who are behind the racist slurs, were condemned or faced disciplinary actions.

These people are always allowed to walk freely at the expense of unity. With the authorities incapable of taking steps to stop the racial bashing, the failure of the 1Malaysia concept becomes obvious. Could this be one of the reasons why the BN may face a backlash in the coming general election?

Since 2008, there have been too many strategic failures by the BN. But is BN listening?

KL-based Amir Ali works for an Indonesian NGO called the Warisan Melayu Riau, which is based in Bengkalis, Riau.

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