Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today singled out frontliners battling the Covid-19 crisis as an example of people who walk the talk of unity in a multiracial society, while contrasting it with politicians who try to exploit ethnic sentiments.
“In the Covid-19 crisis, Malaysians especially the frontliners have proven their empathy for each other without taking into account race and religion.
“This empathy must be strengthened in our society. It helps in our efforts to overcome the challenges of racism more effectively,” he said at the launch of a 10-year blueprint on national unity themed “Unity in Diversity”.
The blueprint prepared by the national unity ministry is the result of years of planning and gathering of public feedback transcending three diffierent administrations: Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional.
Muhyiddin spoke of a need for empathy to play a major role in getting a more balanced perspective on race issues.
He said one problem is when people look at racial issues from their own communal perspective.
“This perspective must be improved in order to make it more balanced and holistic, and must be nurtured through the education system and the media,” he said.
He meanwhile warned of “politicians” whom he said were out to exploit racial sentiments, adding that they were “the main challenge” in all multiracial countries.
“We must be wary of political actors who try to gain political mileage through the exploitation of racial feelings.”
He said the government would not compromise in matters touching on national unity, adding that its importance to racial harmony could be seen through the formation of a dedicated ministry.
The blueprint launched today is the government’s long-term strategy for national unity, with the aim of achieving racial harmony and shaping a national identity transcending ethnic backgrounds.
It is the latest in a series of government policy documents launched in recent years covering fields such as education, culture and security.
The document sighted by MalaysiaNow lists 10 challenges in efforts to achieve national unity, based on feedback from the public over the last one year.
They include issues on ethnic composition, religious sensitivities, social class, education, language, generational gap, gender gap, politics of federalism, urban-rural gap and abuse of information.
Muhyiddin said any effort to achieve racial unity would be based on the Rukun Negara, the five-point national principles introduced in the aftermath of the bloody riots of 1969.
But he said the path towards achieving unity would be difficult.
“The quest for unity is a journey, not a destination,” he added.