Date: 14 February 2014
PERSPECTIVES ON NATIONAL UNITY - HERITAGE, HOME AND HOPE
by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
My perspectives from my generation.
A. Our heritage – past
Merdeka proclamation – I was there at the Merdeka Stadium.
We felt as "One Malaya" even then in 1957.
Tunku Abdul Rahman and later Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn treated all Malayans and Malaysians equally.
There was no name–calling like "pendatang".
Political leaders were far more honest, polite and civil, and served the rakyat more faithfully on the ground.
Institutions like the judiciary, police, civil service, parliament and politicians were generally much more efficient and of higher quality.
We were much more united and a national happy family.
B. Home – present
Now fewer Malaysians feel that great Merdeka spirit of "satu bangsa".
We are more polarised than ever before.
We are developing as a "silo society".
Tolerance of other religions is declining – Bible and temple issues unsettled.
C. Hope – future
Is there hope? Yes, but only if we act now.
What future do we want and what do we need to do for greater national unity?
Adopt the policy of inclusive development as follows:
1. Immediate term
Condemn and pull up all those responsible for hate speeches and acts.
Isolate extremists of all kinds and vote against them.
Enforce rule of law uniformly against extremists – without any perceived selectivity.
Go all out against crime, corruption and cronyism with a stronger political will!
Let the Bahasa Bible be used as before. Proselytisation can be forbidden.
2. Medium term – up to 5 years
Provide for a basic needs and non–racial–based economic strategy in 11th Malaysia plan.
Phase out the NEP which apparently favours the rich and powerful over the poor.
Consider phasing out the bumi/non–bumi divide.
Provide quota guidelines for public and private sector employment and promotions.
Phase out "ketuanan" concept and practices which run counter to national unity.
Phase out protectionism in APs, housing and monopolies. This will counter inflation too.
Allocate more development funds to Sabah, Sarawak, and the poorer states like Kelantan and Terengganu.
Strengthen the electoral process and improve electoral delineation, so that all Malaysians will embrace the new system as fair and reasonable.
Introduce local council elections to improve democracy.
We have about 5 good years to steer our beloved country away from deterioration and the "tipping point", towards a more united Malaysia.
Be fair to all race and religions based on our Federal Constitution, with the Merdeka spirit.
Adopt a new policy of inclusiveness.
Malaysia is a blessed land with enough for all.
Give more priority to the poor and lower- and middle-income groups for socio–economic progress.
Our motto – "Unity in diversity" – should be upheld. Our diversity should be regarded.
As our national "heritage" and our "home" and "hopes" for the future.
As a model of multi-racial and multi-religious country, for the whole world!
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
Chairman of the ASLI's Center for Public Policy Studies.
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