What transformation is Najib talking about when he could not even get UMNO General Assembly to endorse his 1Malaysia policy?

In his interview with Malay Mail yesterday, when asked about "factions that were skeptical of 1Malaysia in UMNO itself", the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that it was by design that he did not define the concept very clearly as "there should be an element of strategic ambiguity so that once you introduce the concept like that, as time goes by, the definition could be defined by taking on board the views of people as we go along".

He claimed however that 'the concept of 1Malaysia is now clearly understood'!

This is indeed a tall claim which Najib could not possibly believe himself.

In fact, Malaysians are entitled to ask what transformation is Najib talking about when he could not even get the UMNO General Assembly to endorse his signature 1Malaysia policy r nearly four years since becoming Prime Minister and UMNO President, when the 1Malaysia Policy represents the very basis of all his 'transformation' programmes, whether government, economic or political, i.e. GTP, ETP, PTP, etc.

Malaysians are surprised that after nearly four years, Najib is saying that he had deliberately left the 1Malayia concept vague and nebulous, which was not what he said in his first year as Prime Minister.

For instance, in February 2010, in his keynote address at the 1Malaysia Economic Conference, Najib expressed unhappiness about the various misconceptions over the 1Malaysia concept which he introduced upon taking office in April 2009, lamenting: "I am greatly saddened that such an idea, which is not terribly complicated, is so often not understood."

How could Najib now claim that right from the beginning, he had deliberately allowed "an element of strategic ambiguity" in the definition of 1Malaysia, when the definition of 1Malaysia was clearly, fully and plainly spelt out right from the very beginning, particularly in the 1Malaysia Government Transformation Programme (GTP) Roadmap, viz:

"The goal of 1Malaysia is to make Malaysia more vibrant, more productive and more competitive - and ultimately a greater nation: a nation where, it is hoped, every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second and where the principles of 1Malaysia are woven into the economic, political and social fabric of society."

The 1Malaysia GTP Roadmap declared that Malaysia has "chosen a unique route - that of unity of diversity and inclusiveness, while ensuring fairness to all and remaining anchored in our Constitution" - which means that "we embrace our diversity of ethnicity, religions and beliefs and, by being inclusive, build mutual respect and acceptance into a social foundation of trust and cohesiveness".

It is clear right from the beginning Najib could not get the UMNO leadership and the Cabinet to endorse his 1Malaysia Policy, as his Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin did not mince his words when he repudiated the 1Malaysia policy by publicly declaring that he was "Malay first, Malaysian second" - with no reprimand or contradiction by Najib.

In fact, in July 2011, Najib dodged the question when asked at the Malaysian Students Leaders" Summit whether he was prepared to state that he was Malaysian first and what he thought of Muhyiddin's infamous remark of being "Malay first and Malaysian next".

Najib did not answer the question, saying:

"I don't want to respond in a way that will divide me from my deputy. 1Malaysia is our guiding philosophy. It does not matter what you say, just as long as you follow (the 1Malaysia concept."

Most ominous of all, Muhyiddin had the support of the UMNO eminence grise, Tun Dr. Mahathir who publicly said he did not understand Najib's 1Malaysia concept and that "Malaysia has become more racial than ever".

Now Najib is making a virtue out of necessity, trying to camouflage his failure to get the endorsement of the UMNO leadership for his 1Malaysia policy as a deliberate stance of strategic ambiguity to get more people "on board" the concept!

1Malaysia has degenerated to sheer electioneering gimmickry to win votes for UMNO/BN in the 13GE, 'transforming' from the initial giveaways of 1Malaysia T-shirt, 1Malaysia-Tupperware and 1Malaysia notebook to 1Malaysia Water Tanks, 1Malaysia Clinics, 1Malaysia Housing and 1Malaysia RM500 Cash Aid.

But UMNO is still fully committed to the exclusive ideology of Ketuanan Melayu which is the very antithesis to a supposedly-inclusive 1Malaysia concept.

This is illustrated by the episode in the recent UMNO General Assembly where UMNO delegates stood in silence and shed tears touched by an overseas UMNO club student representative's rendition of "Anak Kecil Main Api", a song that bemoans the fate of Malays for being sidelined in their own land.

The song, which was written by former National Civics Bureau (BTN) chief, was taught to all those who attended the BTN courses, which is compulsory for students before attending local public universities or going overseas on government scholarships.

The questions raised by this episode include:

  • 55 years after Merdeka, 42 years after the New Economic Policy and half a century of UMNO political hegemony, who must bear responsibility for the fate of the Malays marginalised in their own country? Shouldn't the UMNO-putras bear the greatest responsibility?

  • With 1Malaysia concept and policy, shouldn't the focus be on the marginalised and discriminated among all Malaysians in their own country, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Orang Asli, Kadazans or Ibans, and not just one community?

  • Is this not the best proof that Biro Tata Negara has become the chief agency in government sowing anti-1Malaysia concept?

Can Najib answer these three questions in the spirit of 1Malaysia?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur