ALMOST all Malaysians would have been shocked and deeply disappointed by the divisive discussions that took place at the recent “Rise of the Ummah” convention.
It was even more depressing to hear that a former senior education officer, Datuk Raof Husin, had urged the Government to “return the exclusive right of government scholarships to bumiputra students and do not give them to others”.
For crying out loud, what was Raof doing right through his long career in the education service? Was he promoting or degrading national unity? I wonder how he got away with this anti-national unity attitude. Has he got so many followers that people can legitimately ask: “Is our Government condoning this negativity and divisiveness?”
The other shocker emerging from this conservative convention was the equally damaging statement by Muslim cleric Ismail Mina Ahmad who reportedly tried to erase the great patriotic contributions and ultimate sacrifices made by non-Malays, especially in the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Royal Malaysia police, in the defence of our dear country. How can anyone be so unfair and discriminatory to our fellow citizens unless they are blatantly racial?
It was most welcomed that MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai met with 90 NGOs and roundly asserted that “it is important that all are given equal opportunities to attain a high level of education”.
It is also laudable that the secular group Bebas spokesman Azrul Mohd Khalib has boldly called on Malaysians to reject the demands of this negative and conservative convention. Bebas has rightly pointed out “the real need to focus on the future, where we do not need to depend on racial discrimination and bigotry to succeed”. Bebas is so rational and right.
Many other loyal individuals and organisations have also bravely spoken up. The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism led by its president Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan, MIC treasurer-general Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari, and MCA Religious Harmony Bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker have all stoutly spoken against this threat to national unity from the parochial conservative convention.
But the Government has surprisingly been quiet so far. “Why?” I wonder. The Government should come out against racist and unrighteous remarks. It is indeed expected by all right-thinking Malaysians, especially voters, to state its firm stand against divisive and disruptive remarks that are not historical facts and against national unity and the future of non-Malays.
Both Raof and Ismail Mina Ahmad have apparently violated the spirit of our precious Constitution and the Rukunegara, which provide the foundations of our national unity, fairness, justice and socioeconomic progress.
Should the Government not take the lead by expressing its official stand against attempts to cause public restlessness, disharmony and even unrest?
In fact, the authorities could be reasonably expected to take appropriate action under the laws of the land against those who undermine national unity.
So many Malaysians would appeal to the Government to please be fair and inclusive and to actively promote national unity in our beloved country. This is particularly pertinent at this time before the 14th general election.
A positive move by the Government would definitely benefit all patriotic Malaysians who will be grateful for its leadership to effectively promote greater peace and harmony in our nation.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Asli Center of Public Policy Studies