Saturday, August 01, 2009

Civil service should reflect racial composition

1Malaysia the way forward

I refer to “Prof: 1Malaysia must address ethnic composition in civil service”(Star.July 30).
At the 1Malaysia seminar organised by the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) recently, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM)’s Prof Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi commented on the racial composition in the civil service.

According to the academician, the prohibition of race discrimination provided for in the Federal Constitution have been “forgotten” and this has caused the lopsided racial composition of the civil service. This sentiment is being shared by more and more Malaysians of all races in the country, including the Malays. The situation must be given serious consideration as failing to redress it may have far reaching implications on the peace and harmony in the country.
In fact this lopsided racial composition in the civil service, including public universities and other government-controlled institutions can be said to be main contributing factor for the deteriorating race relations in the country and the fundamental cause of the many socio-political ills that plague us today.

The Federal Constitution very clearly provides for the special status of the Malays and other bumiputra groups from Sabah and Sarawak and it equally guarantees the legitimate interests of the others races in the country. It further stipulates that job opportunities and promotions in the public service should be awarded fairly to all deserving Malaysians. Whereas the former has been overemphasised over and over, unfortunately the latter provisions have been long overlooked.

Of late the effects of this monopolisation of the civil service by a single ethnic group have been manifested in the many unhealthy incidences that have shocked the nation in recent times. The civil service, is seen to be a Malay institution and any action taken by its staff against the non-Malays is perceived to be racially bias which may not be the case in many instances.

This negative perception in the minds of certain segments of the population does not augur well for the long term well-being of a multiracial and multi-religious country. It is time for our leaders especially from Umno and BN, who have the power and means, to correct this perception by deliberate attempts to redress the unhealthy racial composition of the civil service to reflect the ethnic composition of the country.

To behave in a racist manner when surrounded by members of one’s own community is easy and at times convenient and beneficial. However the presence of other races in our midst will act as a restraint to prevent us from overtly expressing views that would hurt the feelings of others. A multiracial environment will make one be more conscious of the sensitivities of others around him thereby refrain him from passing sensitive remarks regarding the race and religion of others that would be hurtful to others. Having a multiracial civil service will go a long way to instil first tolerance and then respect for the believes and cultures of others different from our own.

The 1Malaysia concept initiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when he took office brought some hope to Malaysians that the era of differential treatment is finally over. There were hopes for the dawn of a new era where all Malaysians will be treated equally but whether these hopes will materialise remains to be seen. A number of incidences since then have however shown that it is not that easy to shred of this emotionally charged communal tendencies from our lives. It is even made difficult by those who capitalise on that for their own monetary and political benefits.

It is sad that despite our leaders calling for an end to racial politicking, there are no genuine attempts or political will to a stop to it. Our leaders should conduct themselves in a manner that they are seen to be caring for all regardless of ethnicity. As parents we must show our kids an exemplary behaviour that illustrates the right attitude towards those of different race. In short, what ethnic culture we belong to is not as important as for us to adopt a Malaysian culture that is colour blind and which does not distinguish one by his ethnicity but by his comradeship as fellow humans.

It is vital for Umno, being the dominant component of the ruling BN,to realise that the unequal treatment of the minorities is unfair and is causing a lot of socio-economic problems for those communities. If the situation is not corrected it will ultimately spread to destroy the country.

It is unfortunate that we have today a new generation of Malaysians, political leaders, parents and the people in general, who are so racially charged so much so they become over sensitive and intolerant to the slightest comments and criticisms from members of other races. Under these circumstances forging racial goodwill and integration is a difficult task but if we do not start now in the small environment around us how can we expect our politicians to do so at the national levels where it is far more complex and challenging? We must believe and propagate that believe to all around us that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.

Dr.Chris Anthony

1 comment:

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