Anti-racism statements need substance

IT is timely that the Prime Minister has led with the Government’s clear stand against racist remarks by adults in public places. Two such incidents from school heads in recent days are two cases too many.

In response, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has categorically declared that Malaysia has no room for such wrongheaded sentiment or attitude. Let the rest of his Cabinet and administration follow up on his statement with meaningful action.

Much is needed by way of better education of course, if there are still Malaysians entertaining repugnant racist thoughts after decades of nation-building campaigns. Worse, what is the state of education in the country if racist remarks are openly uttered by heads of educational institutions?

The two reported cases do give cause for concern. Not only did they involve individuals who should have known better, but their reach and likely influence over impressionable young minds are particularly disturbing.

The furious reactions of parents of the pupils at the schools were thus wholly proper and justified. Malaysians today would no longer sit by and see their birthrights trampled on.

Moreover, a vocal response is often the surest way of registering disapproval in seeking official remedies. Too often has silence been taken as acquiescence or agreement.

The provocative utterances by senior school officials, who are government employees, are also disturbing in undermining many long years of national unity efforts. They amount to torpedoing the Government’s own credi­bility based on its 1Malaysia theme.

Malaysia has long been cited as a model of multiracial and multicultural development for the rest of the world, but that status cannot be taken for granted. Like almost everything else, the country’s standing on race relations requires regular review for needed upgrades.

However, as with many of our public utilities and amenities, maintenance appears to be a problem. But unlike everything else, healthy race relations lie at the core of Malaysia’s very being, such that every other aspect of national development has come to depend on them.

Beyond the offensive and hurtful words uttered, racist attitudes and policies must also be expunged. Anything less would only allow a cancerous racism to be perpetuated in other forms.

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