Home Civil Society Voices Moving away from old tactics in a challenging new Malaysia

Moving away from old tactics in a challenging new Malaysia

Photograph: Sumisha Naidu/CNA

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Pusat Komas hopes the nation’s spirit of embracing change will benefit every Malaysian.

That euphoria felt with fervour and vigour still sits fresh in the minds of most Malaysians.

The unseating of the 61-year-old Umno/Barisan Nasional regime peacefully still reverberates among Malaysians, Asean and the world.

This new shift was an exhilarating moment of possibilities, as the elections promised to rejuvenate the sinking Malaysia from billion-dollar corruption scandals, deteriorating inter-ethnic/religious relations, a shrinking economy and an oppressive legal system that curtails civil liberties.

In its first year of assuming to leadership, Pakatan Harapan (PH) has shown and made numerous efforts in promoting inter-ethnic relations among Malaysians, which is not an easy task as it inherited generational practices and policies that enabled racism to grow. PH’s serious concerns indicating national unity as the most important pillar for a nation rich in diversity – language, culture, ethnicity and religion – is applaudable.

Based on our observation, Pusat Komas would like to highlight some of the positive promises and initiatives made by the new government.

On the one hand, this would be an appreciative statement welcoming the government’s well-intentioned ideas, programmes and policies.

Conversely, this would also serve as a reminder of what still needs to be done without pandering to parties whose only interest is to disrupt the peace, harmony and true reform being nurtured in a democratic Malaysia.

Release of National Unity Consultative Council blueprint

While the NUCC was established by the Barisan Nasional government to tackle the growing issues of racial discrimination, the report and recommendations was released to the public by this new government.

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In October 2018, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy released the blueprint for public comment. He further promised that a series of forums would be conducted to provide an overview and to receive and accumulate public feedback.

National Unity Action Plan

As an extension from the feedback from the NUCC blueprint, a National Unity Action Plan will be formulated to strengthen and improve our social unity, cohesion and reconciliation. The core function of a fair and just national unity plan will be the foundation for the future generation to be free of racial discrimination practices. We await the public announcement of this document.

Formation of Consultative Council for People’s Harmony (Majlis Perundingan Keharmonian Rakyat)

A consultative council looking into the possible strategies, ideas and policies to nurture and safeguard harmony, unity and national integration is to be formed in Malaysia.

In line with its election manifesto, the PH government has promised this will be a platform that serves primarily in the process of reconciliation between racial and religious groups. The names are to be announced soon and we hope this will be an empowered Council to get to the bottom of the issues of racism.

Commission of Fair Employment Opportunities (Suruhanjaya Peluang Pekerjaan Saksama)

All Malaysians would be given equal employment opportunities regardless of their ethnicities. The proposed commission is designed to overcome the racist behaviour of certain employers in recruiting their desired staff which is prevalent in both private and government sector. This would replicate the spirit of an encompassing new Malaysia, as said by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng recently.

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Some of these promises made by the PH government to the people of Malaysia have begun to take shape. This is much needed in the light of public resistance to some initiatives that refer to human rights standards, as it is propelled by irrational fear instilled by several irresponsible parties.

The government’s noble intention to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – along with five other international treaties in respect to social, civil and political rights – was designed to ensure Malaysia comes in line with minimum international standards of human rights that promote a better and mature democratic society.

Sadly, the opponents of the convention composing of some Malay-based NGOs and political parties such as Pas and Umno manufactured unfounded threats that the special rights of Malays and bumiputerad enshrined under Article 153 are endangered.

Instead of compromising to the bullies, the PH government should have meticulously planned the necessary communication to educate society about the positive elements in these treaties, eventually benefiting all Malaysians.

In spite of the obstacles laid in the path towards national unity, the government of the day should showcase its boldness to implement promises of building a nation fortified to tackle racial discrimination and social disunity.

We commend Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s indication in revisiting the decision on the ratification of international treaties, particularly the Rome Statute and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Significant reforms in relation to the promotion of racial and religious unity must be tirelessly accelerated by PH, considering the rise of right-wing voices preaching anything but unity. The possibility of yet more U-turns should be avoided at any cost.

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The government and its institutions have the responsibility to demonstrate their commitment in combating and preventing the growth of incitement to hatred in Malaysia.

Therefore, to mark the first year anniversary of the PH government, Pusat Komas would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the collective effort of the Malaysian people in generating the 9 May 2018 fervour for change for Malaysia. Malaysians from all walks of life voted for a Malaysia that is economically, socially and politically progressive underpinned by an inclusive and just society.

This must be championed to a tee without reservations and without undermining the nation’s spirit of embracing change which will hopefully benefit every Malaysian.

We call on the PH government to continue moving away from old tactics despite it being a challenging new Malaysia.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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