Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 29th September 2009:
When Najib’s proposal for a “multi-racial hostel” could make front-page headline news in mainstream media, it is testimony of how far Malaysian multiracial nation-building had deviated and failed in the past five decades
When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s proposal for a multiracial hostel to foster better national integration among pupils in secondary schools under the 1Malaysia spirit could make front-page headline news in the mainstream media, it is testimony of how far Malaysian multiracial nation-building had deviated and failed in the past five decades.
As Malaysia is internationally publicized as “Malaysia truly Asia” show-casing multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual unity in diversity, multiracial hostels should have long become an accepted part of national life.
Instead, they seem to have become an increasingly extinct species after over five decades of nationhood to the extent that Najib’s proposal for a multiracial hostel in Kuala Lumpur appeared to be a great brain-wave of his 1Malaysia slogan.
Malaysia has traversed the road from multiracial hostels in the early decades of nationhood, celebrating Malaysia’s diversity of races, languages, cultures, religions, cuisines to increasingly mono-ethnic hostels where tolerance and acceptance of unity in diversity have assumed decreasing importance.
Is there a political will under Najib’s 1Malaysia to examine why Malaysia’s multi-racial nation-building had gone so wrong in the past five decades in failing to take full advantage of the rich diversity of ethnicity, religions, languages, cultures, cuisines and customs in the country?
Will Najib’s proposed multi-racial hostel be truly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual where the new generation of Malaysians can meet, live, learn and play in the hostels to appreciate Malaysia’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual unity in diversity in everyday life – the greatest and richest assets of the country?
Or will it end up as another manifestation of empty sloganeering without seriously addressing the acute and complex problems of nation-building and national unity in Malaysia?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor