THE Star newspaper should be highly commended for launching its new book Moderation, on Sept 30. Star Media Group managing director and CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai defined the title Moderation as “See with clarity, hear with an open mind and speak with kind words”
Indeed Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, the prominent banker and younger brother of our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak described this as an “excellent definition of the practice of Moderation” when launching the book.
What was most significant in Nazir’s speech, was his repeated powerful appeal for the Government to set up, under the auspices of the Conference of Rulers, another National Consultative Council (NCC2).
Of course the Government itself, the loyal opposition , civil society, academia, religious leaders, labour unions, small and big businesses and others should be wholeheartedly invited and fully involved in the holistic consultative process .
The first NCC established by our PM’s late illustrious father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, was a real success, at least initially. After the shocking bloody 1969 riots, the NCC 1 was like a kind of truth and reconciliation commission.
I recall being involved in the preparations and discussions behind the NCC consultations. They were open minded behind closed doors and undertaken with great sincerity and a deep sense of purpose and faith in the future for a united Malaysia.
We all know that the NCC1 provided us with the New Economic Policy, which was a positive policy document that gave us greater social cohesion and national unity for several years.
However some distortions in implementation, soon set in and caused relatively less racial and religious cohesion, polarisation and even growing disunity.
The time has therefore surely come now, when we should have NCC2.
But this time, as Nazir rightly states from good experience, we should do the following: -
1. The NCC2 ,should be under the auspices of the Council of Rulers. Most Malaysians may agree and I for one certainly do.
This move will make NCC2 much more independent, free of politicking, more professional, fairer to all Malaysians and more long term in perspective and surely more futuristic.
2. The Rulers with their rich tradition of governance can bring to bear the wisdom of the ages, to ensure that only policies that benefit all Malaysians, will emerge and be sustained for the benefit of the whole country, especially Sabah and Sarawak, which have been relatively neglected in the past.
3. The Parliament will have to pass any amendments to the Federal Constitution and so will the state governments.
But the Parliament and the State Assemblies will have to more fully reflect the aspirations of the rakyat for greater unity, peace and prosperity.
The federal and state institutions themselves, have to win the peoples’ support and continue to prosper.
There should be strong resistance to the concept of state capture.
4.To remove current doubts in the interpretation of the Constitution and related laws, the earlier proposals made by the late learned Professor Syed Al Atas and others, and now well reinforced by Professor Chandra Muzzafar - to make the Rukunegara the Preamble of our Constitution - should be seriously considered by the new NCC2 and quickly adopted.
5. The NCC 2 itself could set up a new NCC Monitoring National Unity Commission, to ensure that its recommendations are fully implemented according to the word and spirit of the amended Constitution and the proposals made.
This way, the distortions and seleweng that took place before and the misdeeds of the “little Napoleons, little Talibans , and extremists” can be overcome.
To conclude, Datuk Seri Nazir’s clarion call to establish the NCC2 has to be taken very seriously by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his Cabinet, following the footsteps of his father Tun Abdul Razak.
This move is vital for our beloved country to arrest any polarisation and to forge ahead as a United Malaysian nation, in peace, harmony and greater progress for all Malaysians.
Let’s all go all out for greater moderation and social cohesion and national unity from now, so as to enjoy a better, more united, progressive and happier Malaysia.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Chairman, Asli Center for Public Policy Studies