|Tan Sri Simon sharing his thoughts at the RTD in KK, Sabah|
By Simon Sipaun
I congratulate Jabatan Perpaduan Negara dan Integrasi Nasional (JPNIN) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) for organizing this discussion on inclusiveness and reconciliation. You must have reason to believe that this discussion represents a response to a felt need especially at this time, now that the 13th general elections have finally come and gone. To organize this type of discussion in Sabah goes a long way towards promoting and maintaining national integration.The PM was quoted in the press to have addressed a Gawai celebration in Sarawak on 9 June, 2013 appealing to Malaysians to choose inclusiveness and not exclusiveness in the spirit of togetherness in line with 1 Malaysia. Unfortunately in the same breath he described the opposition as knowing only how to make empty promises, bankrupt of ideas, dreamers and hungry and crazy for powers. This is not quite an appropriate approach to inclusiveness and reconciliation to achieve national unity bearing in mind that more voters voted for the opposition than the BN government. If the majority agrees with the PM the opposition would not have obtained any vote.
Ladies and gentlemen, the situation is that Peninsular Malaysians have known the same federal government for the last 56 years and those in Sabah and Sarawak for 50 years. On 5th May, 2013 about 5.8 Malaysians voted for change against about 5.2 who voted for the BN government.The majority who voted for change were rewarded with 89 seats in Parliament whilst the minority with 133 seats. We have a minority government. Democracy is usually associated with majority rule. In ordinary meetings decision is based on simple or two-third majority. It is better for the government to determine the root cause of any shortfall rather than to portray the opposition as bad for society because the majority no longer buys such description of the opposition. In a democracy, the opposition has a very important role to play.
Furthermore, experience indicates that opposition-ruled states in Penang, Selangor and Kelantan have performed admirably well despite the constraints by having no control over the government in Putrajaya.Inclusiveness, amongst others, implies treatment of every citizen equally and without exception. It is the right way to move forward. Inclusiveness is regarded as an unavoidable national aspiration. Inclusiveness promotes and strengthens genuine national unity and integration.
Every citizen will feel that the country cares for him or her and reciprocates by showing genuine loyalty to the nation. It should be borne in mind that loyalty to the country is different from loyalty to a political party. The idea of inclusiveness is all the more relevant to Malaysia because there are so many potential divisive factors including geography, race, religion, language, history, culture, tradition and the like.Distorting historical facts by people in power does not help. For example, it took the federal government 46 long years to accept and acknowledge the birth of Malaysia on 16 September 1963. Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak have been cajoled to believe that the age of Malaysia should be counted from August 31st 1957.
I used to see slogan at the KK airport stating ‘celebrating 50 years of nationhood’ when Malaysia was only 44 years old. This is not conducive to the promotion and maintenance of genuine national unity and integration. It occurs to me that we do not hear federations being formed now, only federations breaking up. In the interest of genuine national unity and integration we should focus on our similarities and not on our differences. We should move away from politics dominated by racial and religious sentiments.If it is still the case all government forms should do away with information boxes meant separately for Malays, Chinese, Indians and others. I believe government forms such as application for government employment require the applicants to indicate his or her race and religion. In short let us focus on our status as Malaysians and human beings.
Allowing foreigners into the country without proper travel documents and move around with impunity especially in Sabah whilst preventing a democratically elected MP who could be a potential 1st lady PM of this country from entering the state defies logic and common sense. It is also against the spirit and principles of human rights. Surely this is not in line with inclusiveness and reconciliation. Government must show the good example.It is not so much rhetoric and slogan but action on the part of the government which will create the impression on the people especially those who are better informed with greater awareness of what government should be doing and what is being done. Blaming a particular community for any shortfall is also not saleable because they know it is not true. Instead government loses credibility. The government needs to response to changing circumstances.
Generally people are getting more sophisticated with higher expectation. They are getting more and more intolerant of corruption, abuse of power, lack of transparency, cronyism, double standard, alleged selective prosecution and application of the law and so on.Let me make one more point for the moment. The BN government should rule as the trustees of the people and in line with the principles of good governance. It must walk the talk.
The opposition for its part should provide constructive criticisms and keeps the government on its toes and ensure that abuse of power is minimized, if not, eliminated. The BN government must not forget that it is not a popular government. It won through excessive gerrymandering and other alleged electoral frauds. Thank you.-------------------------
Thoughts shared by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Proham Chairman) at a Roundtable Discussion on Developing an Agenda for National Reconciliation organized by Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA) UKM and the Department for National Unity & Integration at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah on July 4, 2013