KUALA LUMPUR: Failure to put in place viable social contracts is the root of many conflicts afflicting nation states, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The Prime Minister said any society especially diverse multicultural societies would benefit immensely from a social contract, which provides a framework for political, social and economic intercourse agreed upon by all communities.
“The social contract reduces misunderstandings and conflicts of interests and allows people to focus upon improving their lives in peace and harmony,” he said in his keynote address at the opening of Asia Media Summit here yesterday.
Abdullah said the governance of multicultural societies had become more difficult due to globalisation, ICT revolution and the spread of democracy.
The Prime Minister said many nations were more inclined to reject diversity rather than embrace it.
“We are more inclined to search for differences rather than recognise commonalities. This is true even in relatively homogenous societies. But societies that are multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural are particularly vulnerable.”
He highlighted Malaysia’s social contract, which was built on the spirit of give-and-take.
“There was a conscious commitment to share power among all groups, between the federal centre and the constituent states.
“The country’s experience was that a strategy of inclusion, participation, respect for legitimate rights of all ethnic, religious and cultural groups, and just recognition of the special position due to the indigenous people, is the best formula to manage its diversity,” he added.
He said the most significant aspect of the contract was perhaps the agreement by the indigenous peoples to grant citizenship to the immigrant Chinese and Indian communities.
The Prime Minister also said equitable sharing of economic growth and education to promote interethnic and anti-religious harmony through socialisation also underpinned the country’s social contract.
On the media, he said it was well placed to make positive contribution to the process of bringing people together.
Over 400 participants from more than 50 countries attended the opening of the three-day summit, themed “Challenges of Multi-religious, Multi-ethnic and Multi-cultural Society”.
Did you find this article insightful?