(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): The Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has intensified widespread and deep-seated concerns that UMNO is using the "Malayunity" talks with PAS on February 19, 2001 to break the momentum of the emergence of a new multi-ethnic national and political consciousness to bring about a political transition in Malaysia where politics would be issues-centred rather than race-dominated.
When asked by reporters after the UMNO Supreme Council meeting yesterday whether UMNO accepted the PAS condition that the talks be based on the issue of national unity, Dr. Mahathir said: "The issue of national unity is also part of Malay unity". (Sunday Star)
This is the most nonsensical statement ever made by Mahathir. Would he next say that national unity is part of Chinese unity, Indian unity, Kadazan unity and Iban unity in Malaysia and that those who opposed Chinese unity, Indian unity, Kadazan unity or Iban unity are anti-national and disloyal elements?
How could any sensible or right-thinking Malaysian make the statement that "the issue of national unity is also part of Malay unity" - not only subordinating and marginalising national unity to Malay unity but repudiating the Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia concept which he proclaimed a decade ago.
On 10th January 2001, I had called on Mahathir to put aside the UMNO-initiated "Malay Unity" talks and respond to Barisan Alternative's invitation to the Barisan Nasional for "National Unity" talks for three important reasons:
It is sad that when more and more Malaysians are thinking of themselves as Bangsa Malaysia and reducing the saliency of their ethnic differences, there are political leaders who are desperately trying to recommunalise Malaysians and Malaysian politics.
Up to now, no advocate of "Malay Unity" talks has been able to explain how such talks could resolve the multiple crisis of confidence afflicting Malaysia as a result of corruption, cronyism, unjust rule of law, selective prosecutions and justice, violation of democratic freedoms and human rights, political persecutions and discriminations culminating in a divided nation losing her competitiveness in the international marketplace in the era of Information Technology and globalisation where the nation's future is not going to be decided by the competition between Malays and non-Malays but the competition between Malaysians and the rest of the world.
Mahathir's sophistry that "the issue of national unity is also part of Malay unity" must be repudiated in categorical and unequivocal terms by all political parties, politicians and the people - for the higher and greater goal of national unity cannot be part of any lesser ethnic unity, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban unity. In fact, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban unity can even become a threat to national unity.
Mahathir's sophistry has brought to the fore the true agenda of the UMNO-initiated "Malay unity" talks, whether it has the ulterior objective to break the momentum of the emergence of a new multi-ethnic national and political consciousness to bring about a political transition in Malaysia where politics would be issues-centred rather than race-dominated.
In the light of the latest development, PAS should reconsider the February 19 "Malay Unity" talks with UMNO.