Friday, November 24, 2006

National unity - young politicians must learn from history

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad (Badawi) should reiterated his call on young Malaysians, green and half-matured politicians in particular, to learn from the spirit of co-operation of the natioan's founding forefathers in maintaining national unity.

They must be reminded that the spirit of co-operation had enabled the people of various races and religions to live in harmony and the country to prosper. They must understand what they have inherited and where they are heading.

It is important to remind young politicians such as Khairy Jamaluddin, Hashim Suboh, Hishamuddin Hussein, Reezal Merican, Hasnoor Sidang Husin, Ramli Simbok and Md Alwi Che Ahmat, to learn from history.

They must understand the history and the essence of the country as they would, God willing that is, eventually inherit the leadership of the party and nation.

Looking at this year's UMNO general assembly, many political observers are worried that it would mark a dangerous turning point for Malaysia, a nation that not long ago was often applauded internationally as a model moderate Islamic nation for its seeming religious tolerance and economic achievements.

The assembly, telecast live by Astro (subscription satellite tv network), was not spared the racist and religious zeal which was more incessant and explicit compared to a couple of previous assemblies.

Malaysia's mix of ethnic Malays, Chinese, Indians (excluding the Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak), has long been resentful of each other and willfully segregate themselves. What was said at the UMNO assembly could upset the national unity that prevailed in the country today.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the prime minister's son-in-law and UMNO Youth deputy head, warned in September (two months before the assembly) that Chinese political groups would try to take advantage of any split inside UMNO. It was not well-received by the Chinese including the ruling co-alition partners Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) and the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP).

When asked to apologise, Khairy proudly said: "What is there to apologise for? ...I am only defending my race."

His boss, the UMNO Youth head and Education Minister Hishamuddin Hussein, even brandished a keris (Malay dagger) when speaking.

"Datuk Hisham has unsheated his keris, waved his keris, kissed his keris. We want to ask Datuk Hisham, when is he going to use it?" said UMNO Perlis delegate Hashim Suboh, a former Radio Television Malaysia employee and ex-press secretary to the Perlis Chief Minister.

The young leaders must be reminded that the May 13 riot had taught the nation's leaders that race relations was not easy and simple issue to tackle.

The late Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun Tan Siew Sin, and Tun V.T. Sambanthan decided to work together to ensure that what is practiced in politics could be emulated by the people.

Malaysia's founding forefathers set aside their differences and pledged to work together for the sake of the country instead of fighting each other. The fruits of their labour could be seen today. Each and every one of us should be defending this hard-earned unity, not jeopardised it with racial and religious zeals.

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