Saturday, November 01, 2008

Recognise the talents of all

True meritocracy the only way forward

It was disheartening that Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s decision to appoint Low Siew Moi, as acting general manager of the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) was met with much resistance by certain quarters. It was particularly sad that the reason for their opposition was not because of Low’s inadequacies but because of her ethnicity. Her experience, services and contributions to the state for 35years seem to be totally irrelevant and unappreciated when it comes to promotions just because she is not a bumiputra despite being a legitimate Malaysian citizen.

After 50 years of self rule one would have expected the nation to have attained a state where all Malaysians regardless of race would be considered as equal citizens unconditionally without any discrimination whatsoever. However on the contrary it is deeply regrettable that racial consideration today has become the most important criteria for appointments to top posts in the government and government-linked companies, not talent, capability, loyalty or even patriotism. We are constantly being reminded of the importance of meritocracy but to what extent is that being really practiced?

It was refreshing that certain bumiputra leaders have come out to abhor racial discrimination as it was against fundamental principles of democracy and the basic tenets of every major religion. It was gratifying to see them come out in the open to boldly defend the appointment of a non-bumiputra to the top post in PKNS.Unfortunately they were too few and our national leaders who claim they represent the interest of all races, instead of educating the people to reject racism, chose to remain silent on this important issue.

It was equally disappointing that even some leaders in the Pakatan Rakyat, which came into power because of its multiracial stand, were too quick to condemn the appointment of Low. Isn’t it timely for our national leaders in BN and PR to openly condemn racism in whatever form it takes and defend the appointment of senior officers based purely on merit and not ethnicity?

The people’s rights are clearly enshrined in the constitution and Government officers, whether they are bumiputras or otherwise, are expected and duty bound to carry them out in accordance with the existing laws. Just as bumiputra officers are entrusted to be fair to all citizens,including non-bumiputras, so do are non-bumiputra officers who must cater for special rights of the bumiputras in the country. Failing to do so will be breaching the laws which govern them. Why do we need only bumiputras officers to take care of their community? Can’t a non-bumiputra be entrusted with that job? Many of us have worked in the civil service with full commitment to serve all the races fairly as provided in the laws.Isn’t it time for us to get over with the notion that leaders should only serve their own communities?

Tremendous hopes for multiracialism were raised after the March 8 elections but with each passing day the people’s hopes to end racism appears to be slowly eluding us. When countries all over are tapping on the resources of all their citizens to remain competitive, we seem to be going backwards to the era of divide and rule which will only be detrimental to ourselves in the long run. How can we move forward when we ignore the talents and capabilities of 40% of the population?

Malaysians in general have grown in wisdom and maturity but are they ready to rid of race politics once and for all? Are they ready to adopt a mindset that regards all races as rightful citizens? The vast majority of the people of all races have no qualms living side by side to face the daily challenges in life together as Malaysians. They have learnt to respect and tolerate their differences and in fact many have become dependent on one another for their various needs. On the other hand it is our politicians who seem to be not ready. They do not appear to be genuinely keen in dismantling racial politics and are bent on continuing with such discriminatory policies for their own advantage. Instead of educating the people of all races to unite they seem to be instigating them to remain divided.

The leaders should stop harping on the few differences among the various races and instead emphasize on the many things that we have in common. They must highlight on the need for unity instead of dividing them for selfish reasons. The new generation parents, teachers, religious and political leaders alike must treasure racial unity and lead by example to instill a sense of mutual respect for those from other races. We must encourage a new mindset that regards all as Malaysians.

In the US which was once renounced for slavery, the people are in the process of embracing an Afro- American as the president of their country whereas in our own homeland we are squabbling over the appointment of a Chinese Malaysian as the head of not a state or nation, but just a government – owned company.

We have some serious thinking to do to see regarding race relations and where we heading as a nation in this highly competitive world. It is vital for all the races to pool their resources together to face the global challenges that await the nation. People with caliber regardless of ethnicity must be given the opportunity to serve the nation without discrimination otherwise soon our nation will be depleted of such capable citizens. If we continue with our race-based policies we will surely be heading for doom in the not so distant future.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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