KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should “walk a mile in the shoes of the other” and reach out across the ethnic divide to build a happy future for the nation and their children, urges Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, chairperson of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).
In his New Year message on Wednesday he said Malaysians need to find a formula to counter the ethnic politicking that has been poisoning our nation and the thinking of ordinary Malaysians for the past 60 years.
He said PSM would like to suggest an antidote to all this toxic politicking – that is, for ordinary citizens to “walk a mile in the shoes of the other”.
“This means that non-Malays should take some effort to understand the economic problems faced by the Malay community – why has rural poverty persisted despite five decades of subsidies?
“Why is Bumiputra participation in the SME sector still so weak? How can we overcome the squalid conditions of low-cost flats that house so many of our urban poor? And together with Malay civil society groups lobby for the solutions of these problems.
“Similarly, Malays who want to build inter-ethnic bridges should try to understand the issues that upset the non-Malays – poor non-Malays having limited access to government programmes for the poor, unilateral conversion of minors, poor access to government jobs, statelessness among those who despite being born in Malaysia are in a limbo because their parents didn’t have documents or were careless with them. And work with non-Malay civil groups to address these issues, ” he said.
Dr Jeyakumar said Malaysians need to reach across the ethnic divide so that they can re-affirm their common humanity.
He pointed out that is Malaysia’s only hope and it has the potential of developing a common Malaysian agenda. We need to recognize that many, on both sides of the ethnic divide have been “wounded” by ethnic politicking and policies and by unfair economic structures.
“The only way to heal that hurt is by reaching out in humility to understand the other and to play a role in the solution of the problems faced by them.
“Unfortunately, most of the existing political parties cannot spearhead this initiative because they are still rooted in their respective ethnic silos, and their leaders compete among themselves to demonstrate that they are the best ‘defenders’ of their community.
“We need a broad-based multi-ethnic civil society movement to deliver this “antidote” (of reaching across the ethnic divide). This is the only way forward for our nation.
“And we really need to come together to tackle the serious problems facing us – climate change is one and mass youth underemployment due to expansion of Artificial Intelligence and the Gig economy is another, just to mention a couple, ” he said.
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