How bigots doomed Najib’s 1Malaysia vision

Chandra Muzaffar says Najib had not been firm in dealing with racist utterances and those who had made them.

PETALING JAYA: A failure to deal with racial bigots, compounded with weak implementation, caused Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia initiative to collapse, according to two activists.

Social critic Chandra Muzaffar, who also heads Yayasan 1Malaysia which promotes the initiative, said policies linked to 1Malaysia such as PR1MA, KR1M, and BR1M were a good effort to bring together those of different faiths and races.

“These are all socioeconomic and sociocultural endeavours which affect people directly. Trying to project them as 1Malaysia helps because you’re saying these policies should not be shaped by ethnic considerations,” he said.

However, he added, the initiative had not had the desired effect.

“People felt that they were still divided in spite of 1Malaysia. There were still racist utterances, people acting in very sort of communal ways. In that sense, 1Malaysia critics are right because these things had gone on.”

He said Najib had not been firm in dealing with such utterances and those who had made them.

“If you’re firm, it doesn’t matter what the community or who the individual is, you send a very clear message to your society, and I find in multi-religious and multiethnic societies, that type of firmness is very important.”

Another activist, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, a former member of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), agreed. He said NUCC had eventually disbanded because Najib succumbed to what Mujahid described as ultra-right-wing groups and religious fanatics.

“The ultra-right-wing groups would say that the National Harmony Act that was proposed by NUCC was an attempt to erase Malay rights.

“Meanwhile, religious fanatics would say the act was supportive of the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals) and was promoting freedom of religion,” he told FMT.

After the NUCC was disbanded, Mujahid had attempted to bring some of the ideas from the National Harmony Act to the Dewan Rakyat in his capacity as an MP.

He proposed three bills for tabling: the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill, National Harmony Commission Bill and Equality Act. However, he said these bills never saw the light of day.

He hoped that the proposals would be looked at, now that Pakatan Harapan was in power. “We already have the blueprint, it’s just a matter of realising it.”