First step is a change in education policies

KUALA LUMPUR: National unity should start with changes in education policies which will lead to mutual respect, love, justice and equality among the younger generation.

This was the general sentiment among 100 young professionals who attended the “Young Malaysians Round Table discussion on National Unity and Development in Malaysia: Challenges and Prospects for Nation-Building.”

Vernacular schools were a hot topic with arguments for and against them while the merits and demerits of national schools were also discussed.

Panellist Tony Pua, from the Education Malaysia blog, said more Malaysians were sending their children to Chinese schools due to a decline in the quality of education in national schools.

“More non-Malays are getting uncomfortable with national schools which they feel are becoming more Islamic.”
Panellist Dr Azmi Sharom from Universiti Malaya said national schools needed to create confidence among non-Malay parents.

“It is good to get all the races in a school. But many parents feel the environment in national schools is getting more Islamic.”

Participants also wanted national unity to be taken to a higher level.

Most felt Malaysians should no longer talk about “tolerating” one another.

Panellist Tricia Yeoh, from the Centre of Public Policy, said many found language to be a stumbling block in creating a Bangsa Malaysia.

“We did a study on youth in the Klang Valley. It showed that English speaking youth had a better mix of friends from different races.”

The study, called “Young Urban Malaysians study on National Unity and Development”, also focused on Malaysians from vernacular schools.

“It found that Malaysians mixed with their own kind more as they felt comfortable due to a common language.”

Yeoh, who rounded up the discussion, said participants wanted Malaysians to appreciate one another besides understanding, accepting and providing equal treatment to all.

Some participants also felt that Malaysia should do away with information on race and ethnicity in forms.


Agreed wt Tony Pua statement…

Ethnicity can never be molded nor transformed into something else. Acceptance by various groups of the national policy to form a cohesive and identifiable unit called Malaysia is the crux of the matter. 50 years after, the problem still exists. Acceptance is tough, and individual racial groups will never abandon their roots. Diversity will stay but national unity is merely a facade.

Gone are the days when Sarawakians were very close-knit and there was virtually no boundary of any sort between all races. Everyone treated each other as real kawan. Why? Because there no fist-waving and chest-thumping zealots out to change the cultural and racial landscape of the time, and there was certainly no bad-mouthing of each other. Perhaps the English language was a better and more effective instrument for creating that cohesiveness.

It looks like the concerns raised will never be addressed fully and effectively, as stretching it could be tantamount to sedition on the part of the non-malays. It is Malaysia, and not Chinasia nor Indianisia!