Friday, August 21, 2009

Substance more important than form

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin had on Tuesday said that the Cabinet was studying the move to drop the column requiring a person to provide information on his race in official forms. He had made the revelation after the Malaysian Insider portal had reported the Cabinet's proposal.

Muhyiddin's comments have draw all round support, judging by public comments made in the media.

This is not surprising at all as most Malaysians have long hoped that they can all be addressed and treated as Malaysians. In fact, such requirement in the official forms and documents should have been removed long time ago.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir has also lent his support. He even suggested the " religion " column should be removed. From my feedback however, there are reservations as to whether the " religion" column should be removed. Some people feel that the government will still have to know the people's religious background as some policy formulation will have to take into consideration such a factor. They say that a person's religion sometimes cannot be identified from a person's name. For example, it is impossible to identify from Chinese names whether they are Buddhists or Christians.

Undoubtedly, the Cabinet's proposal to remove the " race" column is a step in the right direction. However, it is just a small step. The Cabinet should still remember the saying " substance is more important than form." 1 Malaysia concept will ring hollow if efforts to forge national unity is only confined to a change in the form only.

The Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib must prove to Malaysians that in his I Malaysia concept, policies which have divided and even discriminated Malaysians along racial lines should be abolished.

Genuine national unity can only be forged if all Malaysians feel that they are Malaysians first and have an equal place under the Malaysian sun. They can only feel so when the policies implemented by the government are fair and color blind.

Najib's 1 Malaysia concept must therefore mean and include the implementation of ' Malaysian First" policies. Whether it is government department manpower recruitment, JPA scholarship offer , building of new schools, fund allocation to schools or economic incentive and policy announcement , Malaysian First must be the guiding principle and actual practice.

Most important of all, raced based political parties should be banned as they have been the main cause of racial politics in the nation. I will therefore suggest that Najib should in implementing his 1Malaysia concept , there should be no place for racial politics and race based political parties.

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