PETALING JAYA: A National Unity Policy, complete with a blueprint and an action plan, is long overdue for Malaysia and must not be wasted, say experts on national unity.
Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, who is Unity Advisor to the National Unity Ministry, and Malaysia Unity Foundation trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye both agreed that such a policy, if rightly implemented, would help to enhance unity among the multiracial and multireligious population of Malaysia.
Shamsul Amri, who is also Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies director, said a national action plan would be launched next month to implement the National Unity Policy.
“The National Unity Policy is the first document of its kind on national unity, ” he added, pointing out out that the National Unity Policy was first proposed by the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), which was set up in 2013 and then disbanded.
The draft was set aside by the successive governments due to a lack of political will, he added.
“The National Unity Policy outlines major objectives while the blueprint details what should be done and how to enable it.
“The other important document is the National Action Plan for the National Unity Policy which details tasks and modules for every ministry and NGO as well as the public, as everyone is an enabler in implementing this policy on the ground.
“It is impossible to achieve complete unity as we are a diverse population and there will always be something we disagree on.
“But we can become a cohesive society, ” said Shamsul Amri.
He said a survey by the NUCC before the National Unity Policy was drafted showed that while there were things Malaysians disagreed on, about 90% of 55,000 Malaysians surveyed agreed that food was a unifying factor.
He also explained that Malaysians on a whole wanted unity as they felt it was a good thing, be it for the economy or social harmony.
Lee, who was also a NUCC member, said it was vital that the National Unity Policy, blueprint and all, did not remain on paper.
“The success of this policy is in its implementation and execution.
“The government must engage NGOs with feasible activities and ideas, ” he said.
“The politicians too must be educated to be more sensitive and they must be made to tailor the policy into their speeches and actions.
“Unity is everyone’s concern and in implementing the National Unity Policy, there must be sincerity and earnestness, complete with a political will by the government.
“If the government implements and executes it sincerely, I believe we will see a nation living in harmony and accepting one another without realising the differences in their race or religion, ” Lee added.
He pointed out the need for Peninsular Malaysia states to learn from Sabah and Sarawak where people there emphasised little or not at all on ethnicity or religion.
There are 12 strategies under the National Unity 2021-2030 Blueprint Action Plan.
Among them are understanding the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara, strengthening the role of language as a medium of integration, moulding a society with high self-esteem, integrity and morals and moulding leaders as catalysts for unity.