However, just as much as I acknowledge that honest dialogue is crucial to the nation’s well being, I will legislate that conversations should be conducted in an atmosphere of mutual understanding, acceptance and respect, and that knowledge should be exchanged through a process of sharing and discussion in a non-judgmental and non-discriminatory way. In particular, “enforced solutions” including threats of violence or coercion must be avoided. Or simply put, a degree of responsibility must be exercised in the democratic dissemination of honest views.
As Chief Executive of the nation, I will ensure that Malaysia will be a secular state devoid of theocratic law, while affirming that Islam is the official religion of the country. While I am aware that I am a Muslim and that religion plays a very important part of my life and my community, I believe that the key to developing a strong and united Malaysia is not founded (solely) on religious piety, but on core principles of justice, equality and respect for human rights and fundamental liberties of every person regardless of race or religion, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
This is something I must look into as there is a need to stress common and shared values of every person regardless of race and religion. More importantly, I will also forcefully ensure that I:-
i) Eliminate the misuse of identification by ethnic or religious background.
ii) De-construct arguments or discussions entrenched along racial or religious paradigms within our nation, moving towards an egalitarian issue-based paradigm.
With the establishment of this general premise, I will focus and channel national resources on meeting the interests and needs of the disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable of our society. For example, though unrelated, I will ensure that the NEP becomes a true policy that will literally benefit all Malaysians and not just one ethnic group.
This form of action is very important as Malaysia is very diverse and that there are more than just Malays and Muslims. I acknowlege that the continuous Islamisation and preference for Malays in employment, education and politics has elevated the apprehension experienced by Malaysians with regards to their status as “Malaysians”; thus leading to an exodus amongst talented and able Malaysians to contribute to the nation.
My administration shall reject ethnic and religious based politics and ideologies. Malaysia must be made to celebrate it diverse racial and religious identities.
Education & National Development
As prime minister, I will see to it that education policies within primary, secondary and tertiary level institutes shall be instruments that promote national unity and reflect the reality of Malaysians as one people while holding on to their various ethnic and religious identities.
I feel that this reform is necessary as my predecessors had married ethno-religious policies and politics together with the education policy, thus making them inseparable triangle of prioritising the wrong things. Take the quota system, the UUCA and “Aku-janji” as valid examples of this deadly marriage which has made the education system nothing more than a political vehicle, when its chief purpose and aim was to produce future leaders.
Therefore, I will ensure that all educational institutes will incorporate programmes and training modules that seek to improve ethnic and religious relations, bearing in mind historical, anthropological and sociological aspects with the aim of promoting national unity and racial harmony.
At the same time, I will also ensure that Malaysian educational institutes enhance teaching and research standards which will encourage critical thinking and give students the liberty to accept and consider divergent opinions with the aim of being international leaders in their fields.
Once we can address this, we can finally proceed to find ways of enhancing things like student assessment methods, syllabus and study plan revamps, library expansions and invest more in research and development.
During my term in office, I shall forge a Malaysian identity towards shaping a future founded upon national unity, especially among the younger generation which will form the future of our Malaysian leadership. At 50, I believe that the time has come for Malaysians to move beyond its “accommodationist” approach to interacting with one another in terms of mere tolerance; towards a full appreciation, understanding, acceptance and equal treatment of every person regardless of race or religion and in embracing all diversities and complexities. I also am of the opinion that national unity should move beyond a superficial interpretation based on form (e.g. food, language and traditional festivals) towards one based on essence, substance and shared values (e.g. mutual respect, love, justice and equality). At 50, it’s about time we change our ways and approaches for the better. After all, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
The writer is an Information Technology student at HELP University College and intends to go into teaching before going into politics. Catholic Asian News