1. Yesterday, former federal minister Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Hussein spoke about the struggles to build a united nation and said that Malaysia’s interracial and inter-religious identity is fracturing. Hishammuddin added that the “unity in diversity” doctrine the country has been promoting “feels painfully difficult to attain”.
2. What Hishammuddin said carries some truth but the matter is not as straightforward as it sounds. The “unity in diversity” doctrine that Hishammuddin spoke about, of which he said “feels painfully difficult to attain”, is because the whole thing is merely lip service or “cakap politik saja”. There needs to be sincerity and not mere sloganeering if you wish to see your vision and mission bearing results.
3. There will always be a certain level of racism in any country you live in. No country in the world is free of racism. It is only a matter of degree and how you manage the problem that should be of concern to us. You cannot eliminate racism totally. You can only reduce and contain it. And this must be the focus of political and social leaders.
4. It is easy to blame the other party for racism or for religious intolerance. But we need to ask whether we are also equally guilty of this same offence. It takes two hands to clap. And racism begets racism. And the fact that we still talk about Malays, Bumiputeras, Malaysian Chinese and Indians, and natives of Sabah and Sarawak means we still look at one another through racial lenses.