1Malaysia & Race Box

Well, it started with this post which itself was a reply to this post.

(Controlled racial profiling for key statistics and census is necessary for the Government to review it’s policies and make improvements. Image source: http://static.howstuffworks.com)

And I think both Kadir Jasin (who is arguing for a stay of the race box in the official forms) and Ktemoc (who replies on why such race box in official forms need to be abolished) have valid points.

Kadir Jasin is arguing from his point of his identity and roots and religion which is commendable whilst Ktemoc stresses the abuse that has been happening with the simple race box in official forms. Malaysia as we all know is well known to come out with brilliant ideas but when it comes to enforcement and execution, we can fare worse than some of the most undeveloped countries in the world.

Taking Kadir Jasin’s arguments for example, we can be proud of our backgrounds but what if unfair decisions were made based on who we are or the colour of the skin. There is no solid proof of this, of course and certainly no one will come forward and admit that they deliberately being bias and unfair. But when decisions and classifications can be very subjective, who are we to say that nothing else will come to affect one’s judgement?

The presence of such biasness (or over-zealousness) is also been recognised by the Government when it was mentioned that:-

The Roadmap noted that the implementation of the National Economic Policy (NEP) had led to “certain unintended results”, among them a sense of deprivation and discrimination felt by non-Bumiputeras due to the over-zealous approach of officers of certain agencies

Despite of my initial doubts with the concept called 1Malaysia, Najib would make an impressive record on unity if he can pull off the 1Malaysia into reality. And from what is being done, it does look like Najib is on the right path.

Government Transformation Programme (GTP) roadmap for one is such things that are being done right:-

The Roadmap stressed that it was imperative to promote integration through inclusiveness in managing the polarity between assimilation and segregation in Malaysia’s multi-ethnic society.

“Many of the issues that we grapple with as a nation — and which the rakyat have identified as important — are in fact polarities, such as between rich and poor, between young and old and across religions, races and regions.”

Delivering the six National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) outlined in the GTP would reduce disparities and mitigate the sense of deprivation and discontent that were sometimes expressed in racial terms, it said.

The six NKRAs are crime reduction, combating corruption, improving education, raising the living standards of low-income households, upgrading rural basic infrastructure and improving urban public transport.

And one of the initiatives under the GTP is this:-

In fostering a 1Malaysia government, it has been proposed that the mention of race on government forms be eliminated except for the purpose of census and statistics.

But proposals such as eliminating race from official forms is not something new – it has been mentioned by the Government long before Najib became the Prime Minister. In fact, Mahathir when launching the Vision 2020 in 1991 said that one of the challenges that Malaysia need to overcome to meet Vision 2020 is the “establishing a united Malaysian nation made up of one Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian Race)

And how does the Government wish to achieve that – united Malaysia?

They cannot continue to hold on to policies that will create further divisions among the people. In the long run, it will only prove fatal to the development of the country and the Government do recognise it. Already brilliant minds have been leaving the country in the droves for a better future abroad and Malaysia does not benefit a bit from this mass exodus.

(Racial profiling could also backfire and is very bad for the country – no one can choose their race when they are born. So why there should be preferential policies that is based on racial background of the person? Image source: http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com)

But then again, the right execution of ideal policies has been curtailed by many limitations as well which includes poor planning and execution and more importantly lack of political will-power to make the real change.

Even now, as Najib keep introducing new polices and changes that move the nation towards meeting the Vision 2020 and his 1Malaysia, there are already cries of injustice and unfairness by some quarters that Najib have sold out to the non Malays and the Malays are in great danger of losing identity. But these are threats made by people who worried about the inevitable change, by people who have short term interest in the mind and perhaps by people who really do not understand the impact of the change. But if nation as whole has to bite the bitter pill to get things done, so be it.

Coming back to the argument whether to have the race box on official forms, as I said, both Kadir Jasin and Ktemoc had valid points but at the end of the day, a decision must be taken. By eliminating the race box in official forms (except for the purpose of census and statistics), it introduces objectivity and hence better judgement during decision making. Better decision making means better execution and that translates better services for the people.

Besides in the end, there will come a time when race box in official forms to be eliminated, so the earlier, the better.

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