Thursday, October 09, 2008

BN must embrace multiracialism

Umno must lead the change or risk becoming obselete

The call by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for the formation of a national unity Federal Government with opposition parties and for the Barisan Nasional(BN) to become a single political entity should seriously considered by all political parties, especially Umno by virtue of it being the dominant party in the ruling coalition.

This sentiment for multiracialism seems to be shared by more and more Malaysians all races, indicating a remarkable maturity on their part. This was revealed in a recent poll conducted by the independent Merdeka Centre in which seventy-one per cent of Malaysians agreed that the BN’s race-based affirmative action policy is obsolete and must be replaced with a merit-based policy.

The present set up of BN and its predecessor the Alliance party may have been relevant in the post independent era where the various races had to be represented by their own communal parties to chart their rights as contained in the Federal Constitution. Moreover the various ethnic groups were direct immigrants from elsewhere who needed their own ethnic leaders to champion their rights.

Today after 50 years of self rule why should we still need communal parties to represent the interests of a particular race? Why can’t a leader represent the interests of all regardless of their ethnicity?

We may have lost fifty over years as far as cementing of inter-ethnic unity is concerned. What we have now is a whole generation of Malaysians who have become more Malay,Chinese and Indian and who are more interested in the welfare of their own community. We may have lost precious time but it is never too late to reverse the trend. The people seem to be ready for such a positive change which they have expressed in no uncertain terms in the last general elections. Sadly this will to change appears to be sadly lacking in our political leaders as they seem to be still in a state of denial despite the verdict of the people on March 8.

The global economic crisis has placed tremendous pressure on our economy which needs the contribution of all Malaysians regardless race to overcome. If we continue to perpetuate policies that divide the citizens along ethnic lines and ignore the contributions of any particular group, there is absolutely no way we can overcome the tremendous challenges that are awaiting us.

As the first step to reverse the unhealthy trend, it is time for us to do away with race based politics. The BN must take the lead to dismantle race based policies and form a single BN party with direct membership of all races. The non-Malay component parties in BN have all expressed their readiness to adopt such a multiracial agenda but unless Umno take the lead there is no way such a system will ever materialize. It is time for the moderate silent majority in Umno to wake up and take control to bring about the necessary changes in the right direction.

All is not well as portrayed by the ruling party. Umno and the BN must come out of the state of denial and face the hard realities that exist in our midst. The people have grown in wisdom and maturity and their expectations for transparency and accountability are exceptionally high and they are not going to be hoodwinked by the same old race politics of the past. They want to live side by side in peace and harmony and unless Umno and BN realize this and adopt a more just and fair system for all they are going to become obsolete just like their race politics.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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