The Yayasan 1Malaysia has announced that it will be hosting a national seminar “Living in a Multi-Ethnic Society on September 17, 2010, to commemorate Malaysia Day, which will be celebrated for the first time by all Malaysians on September 16. Country’s Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak will be keynote speaker at the seminar.
Yayasan 1Malaysia was set up in 2009 by a group of like-minded intellectuals who want to create a sense of national unity among the multi-ethnic-religious population of Malaysia. Muslims, although, make the ruling class, however, are make 60% of nation’s population.
The organization is headed by Chandra Muzaffar PhD, a professor at the Science University of Malaysia at Penang. He is also President of International Movement for a JUST World.
The former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reported to have said that the slogan, introduced by Najib shortly after he took office last year, had failed to unite Malaysians as a whole.
In response the 1Malaysia Foundation chairman Chandra Muzaffar explained that this lack of understanding should not be construed as a failure, as portrayed by various quarters.
He said people tend to have various interpretations and some even misunderstand the concept.
Drawing an example of religious texts throughout history, he said: “If you are talking about texts that have been around for thousands of years, people misunderstand the texts and give wrong interpretations; what more a concept that has only been around for one year.”
He also concurred with Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who said that such a new concept requires more explanation for people to understand, “just like any new idea”.
“These are the challenges which the proponents of 1Malaysia will have to address, as the idea has only been around for about a year. Any new idea requires explanation,” he added.
According to Chandra, the concept has instead created awareness among the people of the need to be together.
“So many groups… are taking this 1Malaysia idea in all sorts of ways.
“Schools, sports teams… they are all picking up the concept. So I’m guessing there must be some enthusiasm for the idea,” he said.
He said he was optimistic that the concept has taken hold, adding that Malaysia has done well, compared to other multi-ethnic countries.
“We don’t have to be apologetic about our situation. We have done far better than other countries. In Malaysia, the level of violence has been minimal and we should be proud of it. So much less than Sri Lanka, India, Kosovo, Bosnia, Ireland or Lebanon,” he said.