THE 1Malaysia slogan is a refreshing concept that is timely at a moment in Malaysia’s history when we are faced with economic and political crises.
The slogan under new Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is better than the Bangsa Malaysia concept, which seemed to have an assimilation orientation and did not really catch on. 1Malaysia gives a clearer picture of “unity in diversity”, which takes a pluralistic and integrationist approach.
The 1Malaysia concept must address issues and concerns at the individual/personal level, but must at the same time address institutional and structural issues that continue to divide us as a society.
The major instrument that provides social services, namely the public sector, must truly reflect 1Malaysia.
A major transformation exercise of the public sector is essential. It must be multiracial in staffing at the federal, state, district and local government levels. There must be a review of the recruitment process, and promotion prospects within the civil service must be merit-oriented. It must provide equal opportunities for all Malaysians, and all Malaysians must feel that this government is for all and not selected groups only.
The private sector, too, must reflect 1Malaysia; therefore industry captains and business associations must work together in the realisation of this vision. The thrust here is how to attract young Malay [Malaysians] to private sector employment, and for the private sector to create a work environment that is conducive for greater Malay [Malaysian] participation.
Datuk Onn Jaafar (Public domain)The prime minister could initiate a dialogue process to gather feedback on the theme of political parties using race and religion as their ideology. How do we move away from a race-centric politics towards a 1Malaysia-centric politics, where no matter what our ethnic or religious background, we will speak up for the needs, struggles, issues and concerns of all Malaysians?
This political transformation cannot be realised overnight, but Umno must explore again the vision of Datuk Onn Jaafar. Umno must take the lead and after 52 years of independence, we are now matured enough to once again reflect on this vision.
Tun Abdul Razak (Public
domain) Tun Abdul Razak created an inclusive approach to party politics after 13 May 1969 with the founding of the Barisan National (BN), which created a larger structure to include other sections that felt alienated from the original Alliance Party of Umno, MCA and MIC. The time has now come in 2009 for the new prime minister to lead a movement of change where all Malaysians will feel they are part of this nation as 1Malaysians.
The greatest threat and barrier is the politicisation of race and religion in Malaysia. Politicians tend to heighten racial and religious issues, especially during the run-up to their party elections and the general election.
Therefore, for the 1Malaysia concept to materialise in concrete terms, the prime minister must first institute a code of ethics for political speeches and expressions. This code of ethics must be based on the fundamental principles of the Federal Constitution and the Rukun Negara.
The prime minister, as the chairperson of the BN, should ensure that all politicians and political parties with the BN subscribe to this standard. Stern action must be taken by the party against those who violate these basic principles.
The prime minister should try and get other political parties to voluntarily subscribe to these principles and standards. Each of these parties should institute mechanisms to ensure their members abide by this mutually agreed code.
The prime minister could establish a formal mechanism like a Consultative Council of Community Leaders, including academics, which can meet and discuss this concept and advise him of a plan of action in order for 1Malaysia to be realised practically.
Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria
Principal Research Fellow
Institute of Ethnic Studies
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
5 April 2009