PETALING JAYA: Weeks before PAS and Umno signed a historic charter to formalise their alliance, MCA Youth vice-chairman Chua Hock Kuan drew plaudits when he addressed a crowd in fluent ‘Kelantanese’.
He was addressing a crowd which included the youth leaders of Umno and MIC, Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki and R Thinalan.
Leaders of Umno, MIC, MCA and PAS had come together for a road show by the opposition to allay fears and show that the charter to be signed was not Malay-Muslim centric, despite attempts by Pakatan Harapan to portray it as such according to Asyraf.
Earlier this year, PH chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said that such an alliance was bad for race relations. But Asyraf believes such a view is wrong, adding that is why the document is called a national unity charter.
The opposition wants to maintain Malaysia’s unique identity as a multiracial country, Asyraf says.
“This nation is owned by everyone, not just the Malays. It also owned by the Chinese, the Indians, the Sabahans and Sarawakians. And we have agreed that it should be based on the social contract,” he told FMT, adding that this included recognising Islam being the religion of the federation, although others are free to worship freely and the special privileges of the Malays.
The charter signed last week is not a gimmick, Asyraf said. It is a message to voters that the opposition is coming up with a “new deal” that among others addresses the concerns of the people, especially the cost of living.
Apart from roadshows, Asyraf said that the opposition will be engaging various groups, including academicians and professionals, as different stakeholders in the country have different interest and needs, which must be addressed.
“We can’t come up with a new deal based on our own perceptions and perspectives. It has to be bottom-up.”
The opposition, he also said, has formed task forces, to look into various issues including Felda and the plight of small-time farmers affected by the drop in commodity prices.
None of these task forces, Asyraf points out, has a focus on race and religion.
The findings of these task forces will be the basis of the manifesto the opposition intends to offer, one which Asyraf says will be unlike that of the ruling coalition prior to last year’s elections, which he said contained “sky-high” promises.
It will be one, he said, that addresses the concerns of the people and will help rebuild the country.
“It will make Malaysia a better nation, one that we can be proud of.”