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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Need to be serious about national unity in the integration of the races


Since 1957, have we achieved unity through racial diversity? Are we able to mingle freely? Has racial polarisation diminished in national and vernacular schools? Why are we continuing to use unsavoury words all the time? Why do we have discriminatory legislation and policies? Why have we become so confrontational?
The above is not an exhaustive list of racial undertones but many of us still believe there is a silver lining, room for inclusiveness (not exclusiveness) and diversity.
While we applaud every endeavour undertaken, more remain to be done to eradicate racism and discrimination. It is imperative for Malaysia to ratify the International Convention on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and introduce an Equality Act or otherwise it would be almost impossible to deal with intolerant racists and bigots.
Tunku Abdul Rahman on Aug 31, 1957 said “...I am indeed proud that on this, the greatest day in Malaya’s history it falls to my lot to proclaim the formal independence of this country. Today as a new page is turned, and Malaya steps forward to take her rightful place as a free and independent partner in the great community of nations - a new nation is born and though we fully realise that difficulties and problems lie ahead, we are confident that with the blessing of God, these difficulties will be overcome and that today’s events, down the avenues of history, will be our inspiration and our guide...”
While there were many difficulties and challenges, to this day we are simply incapable of creating an amicable society and unable to improve and reinforce our racial cohesion and trust. Musa Hitam seems to suggest that the use of race and religion is intensified to win support and to gain a wider audience. In essence it is the inherent weakness of politicians that has seriously hindered our effort to gain national unity.
To be progressive and united, it is absolutely necessary to have a strong mandate and government or otherwise the civil society will not be able to achieve anything.
Keeping the ethnic groups within their exclusive enclosures may not be proper and healthy and in fact it has caused negative repercussions and racial tensions.
Our diversity and unity perceived once as the most treasured national heritage shattered after 1969 and 1980.
Unless we are serious about national unity in the integration of the races, in the eradication of inter-racial and intra-racial polarisation and adopt universal values, Merdeka may be inconsequential and unimportant.

R KENGADHARAN is a lawyer and an ex-ISA detainee. - Mkini

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