Musa: Leaders not firm on religion, race issues

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PETALING JAYA: There is a serious lack of firm leadership in the country, especially when it comes to issues pertaining to race and religion, Musa Hitam says.

In his book ‘Frankly Speaking’, the former deputy prime minister explains that many leaders are unable to take on detractors on the merits of any issue brought up.

“Instead, they succumb to using racial or religious arguments in an attempt to promote their narrow, selfish interests at the expense of national interests.”

Meanwhile, Musa says, there seems to be less concern about issues relating to national development in general, particularly corruption, which he describes as a “national blight”.

Malaysia has in the past few years endured its fair share of racial-religious tension, namely the tug-of-war over the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims, interfaith custody battles and most recently, the fear that schools are becoming “too Islamic”.

Musa thinks the problem with the 1Malaysia slogan is that it suggests that non-Malays feel discriminated against and, therefore, want something better.

He says the slogan, which Prime Minister Najib Razak espoused when he took over the country’s administration in 2009, makes the non-Malays believe that the current situation is not good enough.

For the Malays, however, Musa says 1Malaysia implies an erosion of their position and rights.

“This continuing tension risks being exploited by irrational and fascist elements pushing for ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ (Malay supremacy),” he says.

Musa believes there is no reason for any community to fear, just as there is no reason for the Malays to suffer from an inferiority complex.

Musa says if Umno is serious about remaining relevant, the party has to accept that nationalism is no longer the exclusive preserve of the party.

“It has to play a bigger role in finding the middle ground through dialogue.”