Malaysia’s greatest paradox — national unity in a plural Malaysia

It is Malaysia’s greatest paradox — national unity in a plural Malaysia.

We have been talking about “national unity” for six decades but we have never been more divided today than in Malaysia’s history.

The five principles of Rukun Negara were formulated to achieve “a greater unity for all her peoples”, but after five decades, we have people who do not accept all the five principles of Rukun Negara becoming Cabinet Ministers and who question other people’s commitment to Rukun Negara.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdulllah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah said the five principles of Rukun Negara form the formula of how the people of various races, religions, cultures, and languages in Malaysia can overcome differences and diversity to live in peace and harmony

In his Royal Address in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the Rukun Negara and National Day 2020, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong said the core principles outlined in the Rukun Negara are universal in nature that cuts across noble values of all nations and religions, and capable of becoming a guide for the citizens of an independent nation.

He urged the principles should serve as a guide and be practised by all quarters, including the country’s leaders, the government and Malaysians.

The time has come to re-inspire Malaysians with the soul and spirit of Rukun Negara as the basis to re-unite Malaysians of diverse ethnicities, languages, religions, cultures, and regions in all fields of national life — in politics, education, economy, welfare, environment, socio-culture, science, technology, and innovation.

The Yang di Pertuan Agong was prescient when he advised the formation of a unity government to end the political crisis in the country post-15th general election — to undertake a reset of the nation-building principles which had inspired the nation’s founding fathers but from which the nation had deviated from, causing Malaysia to fall from a first-rate world-class nation to a second-rate mediocre country, losing out to Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, and in danger of losing out to Indonesia, China, and India we do not re-set and return to the nation-building principles of the nation’s founding fathers.

The Raja of Perlis Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail is the latest Ruler who had spoken up warning of the divisive and toxic politics of lies, fear, hate, race, and religion.

Last month, Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah said he would not tolerate attempts to incite racial and religious hatred, which could provoke hostilities in his state, whose 2.5 million people comprised 61.5% Malays, 26.7% Chinese and 11.3% Indians who observe various religious beliefs, inherit diverse cultures and are proficient in multiple languages.

The proliferation of hate speech on social media has also been a major cause for concern.

The Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, has urged the politicians to stop using racial or religious issues to incite Malaysians against one another.

The Selangor ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has advised all quarters, especially politicians, not to fight with each other or focus on personal interests to the point of neglecting their responsibilities to serve the people.

He urged all parties to work together to rebuild the country that is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic and elevate it to a better level to all aspects, including social, political, and economic.

The importance of maintaining harmony and unity among the diverse people in the country has also been a consistent theme of the Sultan of Johor.

It is most unfortunate that more than 50 years after the formulation of Rukun Negara and the repeated advice of the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the state Rulers, Malaysia has failed in achieving national unity in Malaysia.

The greatest task of the Anwar government is to achieve the national unity in diversity which had escaped the previous governments.

Malaysia can only succeed if there is national unity out of Malaysia’s diversity. There are many reasons for the failure of Vision 2020, the thirty-year plan formulated in 1991, but one of the reasons is that in 2010, Malaysia had a Deputy Prime Minister who regarded himself as “Malay First” instead of “Malaysian First”.

The greatest challenge of all Malaysians is whether they can succeed this time in achieving the national unity out of the diversity of ethnicities, languages, religions, cultures, and regions in Malaysia.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Veteran