Challenges facing the 1Malaysia concept
CHANDRA MUZAFFAR IT was 20 months ago that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak formally announced his 1Malaysia concept. We are now in a position to examine the challenges facing the idea, to reflect upon its achievements and to look ahead. The first of the challenges comes from vested interests with a stake in perpetuating ethnic dichotomies that are inimical to national unity. Among the Malays and Bumiputeras, there are groups who abuse the Special Position embodied in the Constitution and in certain public policies to advance their own interests. They alienate not only the vast majority of non-Malays but also a significant segment of the Malay and Bumiputera populace. Likewise, the pronounced push for Chinese primary and secondary education within the Chinese community, in contrast to its passive approach to education in the national language, has created a great deal of disillusionment among Malays who feel that the former are not inclined towards integration that acknowledges the identity of the land.
A second challenge emanates from partisan politics. Some individuals and groups within the political opposition view 1Malaysia as a propaganda tool of the Barisan Nasional. They ignore the fact that 1Malaysia was presented to the people as a national mission on April 3, 2009 by the prime minister in his capacity as the sixth prime minister of Malaysia. Besides, right from the outset, 1Malaysia was anchored in the Constitution and linked to the Rukun Negara and Wawasan 2020, which are instruments of nationbuilding, not political party manifestoes. If it had not been for this negative attitude of some politicians, which has an impact upon a portion of the populace, 1Malaysia would have gained more traction. Certain unhelpful religious sentiments also impede 1Malaysia. There are influential elements in the religious establishment who do not realise that their narrow, bigoted...