Unity — another window dressing again?

Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.

– Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet ex-president

Is it another publicity stunt to pull the wool over our eyes again?

Here I am referring to the latest effort by the federal government with another blueprint. This time titled “National Unity Policy 2030” (NUP).

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin launched this important policy on February 15 and according to him it is based on the concept “Unity in Diversity”.

The NUP outlines three aspirations, 12 strategies and 41 strategic shifts.

The Prime Minister stated that this blueprint is to ensure that Malaysia remains a strong nation with unity at its core.

This begs the question, who or what actually drives unity to be at its “core”?

If it is the rakyat in general and individuals, many of them do practise the idea of unity and it would continue towards a path of a peaceful and equitable society.

However, if the ‘core’ refers to some dominant political personalities and their divisive policies, then it is a cause for concern.

Just as an example, some of this type of concern arises due to the various speeches and some policies advocated by politicians that actually divide our rakyat. 

The belligerent speeches promoting racial and religious chauvinism are made to marshal the support of particular segments of voters.

In the United States of America, past President Trump was particularly adept with this approach. By the time he was voted out of office, he left behind a deeply divided nation.

We do like to project ourselves as a peaceful multiracial and multi-religious nation where its citizens live together harmoniously. To a certain extent, I would agree.

However, this is subjective. Those benefitting would agree and those that feel marginalised and disadvantaged would disagree.

National unity cannot reach its full potential and become entrenched in our nation unless some elements of the current policies are removed.

In its place, a reshaped and non-racial based system and policies ought to be implemented.

Just take the following as an example in the educational and business sphere.

Malaysians are categorised into three different income groups: Top 20 percent (T20), Middle 40 percent (M40), and Bottom 40 percent (B40).

If the educational and business quota system was targeted based on the M40 and B40 income categorisation rather than race, it would be a giant step towards unity and equity.

If we do not get an entrenched system with unity at its core, then we will forever be faced with calls for unity and there will be many more blueprints for unity in the years and decades ahead.

To his credit our prime minister has warned against any attempt to “disrupt unity”, citing politicians inclined to use nativist sentiments for political support.

He also added, “We must be careful of the racial manipulation by politicians.”

He further stated that “They are the biggest challenge to any multiracial nation. We must avoid politicians who try to raise their value by stoking racial emotions.”

I would say these are strong and positive statements indeed to promote unity in our nation.

For the moment I would take them at face value as might some of you.

Only when the intentions and words translate into action and people, especially those who are marginalised, see the desired outcomes will there be a collective sigh of relief and deep gratitude.

There have been numerous previous plans on establishing a solid foundation based on unity. Some of it mere lip service or wayang sehaja as they say.

I do pray that this one works and that all the persons involved along the entire political supply chain system in the implementation of this NUP blueprint are committed to it.

Many do hold up Sarawak as a way forward in unity.

There are various unity driven initiatives and policies that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his team have implemented.

The Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) and educational grants to mission and Chinese schools are only just two amongst many initiatives that are cementing the concept of unity in Sarawak.

Of course, it is a work in progress and more initiatives are required towards fully entrenching unity into the DNA of Sarawakians.

Individually we all have a role in promoting unity. We have to speak up when we see situations that cause discord.

Very importantly, we must also appreciate it when we feel and see the benefits of unity, as we do in Sarawak.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.