Will National Unity Consultative Council become a talk shop?
Yesterday, when launching the National Unity Consultative Council, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak listed seven tips for the newly established National Unity Consultative Council, including organising programmes that transcend race and religion.
The Prime Minister revealed that the government had organised a 'durian fest' after the May 13 racial riots to unite the people and suggested that the council look into organising environment, health and sports related programmes for the very same reason.
While I agree that more unity progarmmes should be organized to bring about more interactions among the different races, such aspect can be left to the Unity Department to discuss and implement.
The Unity Council should be given the freedom and responsibility to carry out the bigger task of reviewing government policies which have caused disunity among the people and to recommend the necessary changes.
It cannot be denied that there are many factors which can cause disunity in a multi racial and multi religious country like Malaysia; however, a government policy is a most significant factor.
Najib mentioned yesterday that national unity will emerge once Malaysians stop seeing each others through the lens of race or religion. Yet even though the nation has achieved independence for more than 4 decades, the BN government is still keeping and implementing various race based policies.
Change must come from the government and unless the government is prepared to make bold changes, many Malaysians will see his call as only “cakap syok”.
Can Najib therefore declare that the government is prepared to accept good policy recommendations made by the Unity Council if the recommendations are good for national unity though they are in conflict with government’s decisions and policies?
I will give an example here.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs and the Government of Malaysia should take necessary steps to secure immediately the right to freedom of opinion and expression of Herald – The Catholic Weekly and withdraw unconditionally from further litigation on this issue,” the UN expert said in a press release issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) .
If the Unity Council agrees with the UN experts’ views, will the government accept the Council’s recommendation?
Or will it be a case where the Council can discuss anything behind closed doors but the government will only accept what it wants to accept, just like how it has treated the good recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by headed by former Lord President Tun Dzaiddin?.