(Penang, Monday): Forty-three years after Merdeka, 30 years after Rukunegara and ten years after the proclamation of Vision 2020 and the Bangsa Malaysia concept, the time has come to send out the clear and unmistakable message that Malaysian unity must take a higher importance and priority than any ethnic unity, whether Malay unity, Chinese unity, Indian unity, Kadazan unity or Iban unity.
For this reason, special care must be taken to ensure that the proposed Malay unity talks initiated by UMNO and extended to PAS and Keadilan do not repudiate the Bangsa Malaysia concept and cause irreparable setback to the 43-year multi-racial nation-building process.
UMNO has initiated Malay Unity talks on the ground that the Malays are not united solely because it has lost Malay majority support in the 1999 general elections. This is a most specious argument for UMNO is equating "Malay unity" with united or at least majority Malay support for UMNO.
If this is an acceptable argument, then the country would have been ringing with calls and shouts for "Chinese unity" whenever the Chinese component parties in the Barisan Nasional fail to win Chinese majority support in general elections.
In any event, if UMNO’s loss of majority Malay support can be equated with Malay disunity, then UMNO must bear the greatest responsibility for failing to keep abreast with the aspirations of the majority of Malays in the country.
Is UMNO’s call for Malay unity a call for blanket Malay support for UMNO’s undemocratic, oppressive, corrupt and unjust policies and rule or does it envisage wide-ranging reforms of UMNO and Barisan Nasional government policies to conform with the aspirations of the Malay majority in their support for the Barisan Alternative’s call for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.?
The problem of Malay and even Malaysian disunity lies not among the Malays or Malaysians but UMNO and the Barisan Nasional for their continued undemocratic and unjust governance, as reflected by a recent slew of unfavourable international assessments on Malaysia, whether on democracy, human rights, the rule of law, corruption or international competitiveness.
If the UMNO-led government is prepared to reform and restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, then there would be no need for any ethnic brinkmanship as in attempting to escalate racial polarisation or confrontation nor even any need for Malay unity talks.
After about half a century of nationhood, precedence must be given to Malaysian unity talks among all political parties and leaders to face the looming economic crisis and strengthen national resilience as launching judicial reforms over any Malay unity talks to defend the bail-outs of the likes of Tajudin Ramli and Halim Saad or to justify the persecution of former Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim.
As it would make a mockery of the Malaysian nation-building process if Malaysian unity is subordinated to "Malay unity", any "Malay unity" talk should only be held in the context of "Malaysian unity" and should be held after there is a national consensus as to how greater Malaysian unity could be achieved to better prepare the country to face the challenges of the new era of IT 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.
Political parties and leaders should therefore hold "Malaysian
Unity" talks first before any "Malay Unity" or other ethnic