‘Moving forward as a united nation’

PETALING JAYA: The National Unity Blueprint 2021-2030 is very comprehensive and timely for Malaysia to move forward as a united nation, says Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

“A lot of political will is needed for the blueprint to be fully accepted in our country.

“I’m always an optimist, ” he said when asked if the objectives of the blueprint, launched by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday, would be met.

Saifuddin said Malaysia had achieved a certain level of unity over the decades.

When the country first attained independence in 1957, not many outsiders “gave Malaysia a chance to survive as a nation”, let alone to become a developed country.

“This is because we are so multiracial and multireligious. But we have made it this far and we should be proud of ourselves. But, we should not be complacent, ” he said.

He admits that there are still issues involving discrimination that go unreported by the people.

“There are people who feel dissatisfied, disappointed or under-served. However, the nation as a whole should strive to do better.”

Saifuddin said with changes in society and advancement of technology, people were experiencing living in two different types of communities.

The first is the actual physical community where people live together in villages or housing areas.

“We have quite a good understanding of the best ways to live peacefully and harmoniously in

this kind of community.

“At the same time, we are now faced with a new experience of also living in a digital community, ” he said.

“Many are still learning how to ‘navigate and mitigate’ issues and problems faced in the digital community, such as racial and religious issues, fake news, etc.

“Hence, the blueprint is of utmost importance, and the timing is right (for the country) to have a clear and comprehensive policy on unity, ” he said.

Saifuddin also said there were occasions where some politicians had resorted to populist methods, through speeches and statements, to champion racially-motivated issues.

“Politicians should really become champions of unity. But this is not easy.

“We actually need reform in our political system.

“I have before this advocated a system called ‘centripetalism’, where every politician and parties move to the centre (moderation) and work to end all kinds of extremism, ” he said.

Centripetalism, said Saifuddin, would involve three things, such as encouraging the formation of multiracial parties and coalitions; have more mixed constituencies so that the motivation for politicians to win is by campaigning on multiracial issues and policies; and to make multiracial consultations a culture in all fields and all levels.

He proposed that the Federal Constitution be taught as a topic in schools but not as a subject on its own, but as a topic in a cross-disciplinary approaches, such as in history, geography, essay writing, etc.

“The Constitution was written in a justly, balanced manner. If we understand it and implement it accordingly, we would be able to avoid issues, ” he said.

Saifuddin said society as a whole should also move beyond “tolerance” of other race and religion, and instead should like each other.

“We should celebrate one another. With this, we can truly live in the spirit of peaceful coexistence, ” he said.

“Sports, for example, should be given more priority and is an activity that is capable of making almost all Malaysians come together as a nation.”

The National Unity Blueprint 2021-2030, based on Rukun Negara, was formulated for long-term measures for all races, cultures and religions.

It was formulated in line with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, Malaysia’s Five-Year Plan and other existing policies.

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