New Malaysia 2020: Do We Really Need Harmony and Reconciliation Commission?

commission

Seriously do we really need Harmony and Reconciliation Commission? Do we have a very serious race & religion conflicts in this country? Where this conflict is coming from? Is the notion of race misunderstood in this country? Infographic source: https://pediaa.com

One of biggest failures that Malaysia has since we got our independence from the British is on the issue of race and religion. It had already remained a very sensitive issue ever since and there is no single passes by without one hearing some incidents related to race or religion.

We may have gotten independence from the British but we have not got independence from British’s divide and rule game. Divide and rule using race and religion has been so effective since Day 1 which explains why we often take 1 step ahead and 3 steps behind.

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Now the Unity Minister, P. Waytha Moorthy has a brilliant idea:-

The Bill to set up the Harmony and Reconciliation Commission is expected to be tabled in Parliament this year.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator said the independent commission would, among others, have the task of finding ways to make peace between quarrelling parties or those touching on others racial and religious sensitivities, without resorting to police action.

There are some issues that can be resolved through reconciliation. Therefore, this commission entrusted with the powers will seek reconciliation between the antagonistic groups or the aggrieved parties without going to the authorities.

“We give these parties an opportunity to reconcile. But if what is said is too extreme then it will be up to the police,” he told reporters at a friendly meeting with state community leaders at the Terengganu Buddhist Association Hall, here today.

Waytha Moorthy said so far they have been drafting the bill and studying several countries with such commissions such as the United Kingdom and Australia.

(Source)

Of course on the onset, it appears like issues of race and religion have appeared to have increased after Pakatan Harapan took over and this is mainly because there is less restriction to curtail what is being said and done in the social media.

Another possible cause could be also due to dissatisfaction by those who have lost in the last general elections and wish to create unnecessary trouble.

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today said race relations in the country are on a downward spiral despite efforts by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration to bring about change and reform.

“Racial and communal sentiments should not be taken lightly. If left unchecked, they could wreck efforts to get the country back on track,” he said in a statement to commemorate PH’s first year in power.

His remarks follow those of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who said yesterday that race is still a big issue in the country despite talk of unity and being “Malaysian first”.

“Everybody talks about his own race,” the prime minister said in an interview with the media, adding that ministers who wished to gain support from their own communities had to bring up race-related issues to the government.

(Source)

Anyway back to the idea of creating the Harmony and Reconciliation Commission. How this going to be different from the other many agencies and policies in place on interracial relationship? What is their core objective?

Personally I feel that the Unity Minister’s idea of proposing to set up the Harmony and Reconciliation Commission is time consuming (or rather time wasting) and a sheer waste of taxpayers money and here’s why:-

Reason 1

The premise for the creation of Harmony and Reconciliation Commission starts off on the wrong footing. Based on the Minister’s statement:-

“…the independent commission would, among others, have the task of finding ways to make peace among parties quarrelling over racial and religious matters, without resorting to police action…”

Who is quarrelling over racial and religious matters – ordinary citizen like you and me? And if even so, who is the trigger point? Who incites and flames up racial and religious issues in this country? If the good Unity Minister still remembers, he himself was the center of public anger in a racial & sensitive incident that almost blown over.

Reason 2

We already have a department that handles national unity and harmony – it is called “Department of National Unity And Integration”. Its roles are rather clear:-

Educate people to love unity
To preserve, maintain and enhance ethnic relation towards national unity
To promote understanding and harmony among people of various religion
Conduct unity discourse and ethnic relations study
Carry out intervention measures in managing national unity affairs and integration
Provide recommendations to the Government in stating the nation’s stand at the international level

(Source)

Doesn’t this overlap with the purported Harmony and Reconciliation Commission? So why create another to waste time and money? How does this new Commission work & co-exist with Department of National Unity And Integration?

Reason 3

There is no real action on national unity and harmony in the past – think about it.

How many politicians have blatantly misuse the notion of race and religion in their career? They will say one thing in front of one race, a different thing in front of another race.

Some embark on religion to get support using “we against them” notion. But despite this, how many of them have been arrested and charged with sedition and attempt to disrupt harmony of the various races in this country? I can’t recall one.

In fact, we are still protecting the fugitive from India for no good reason other than perhaps political reasons.

What about others actions that will forge greater unity in this country like in schools? Why we until now still have different schools for our young ones – national schools vs vernacular schools? Why promote division of the various races in this country at a very young age?

We have too many different types of schools that not only have different levels of education but also segregate the majority by race. Why there is no greater thrust on one school for all?

Anyway the point is that we have not been serious in forging a greater unity and harmony between the many races in this country at least from the Government level.

Reason 4

No real power of enforcement. Seriously Malaysia also suffers from another disease called NATO – no action, talk only. Yes, we can have commission, departments, divisions, agencies, units and even dumb Ministers but what’s the point if they all talk about unity but does nothing to foster greater unity?

How the Harmony and Reconciliation Commission is expected to make peace among parties quarrelling over racial and religious matters, without resorting to police action? Will they take arbitration manner of resolving this issue of talking between the two parties and getting them to agree?

Will they be toothless like our Suhakam? Or they will have the power of the law to compel the parties in the dispute to accept the settlement or the solution from the Commission? If the parties don’t accept the settlement or decision, will they be penalised?

So, Pakatan Harapan should scrap ideas like Harmony and Reconciliation Commission which will not do anything but waste taxpayer’s money. It will not be effective unless there is a greater push from the top down. There must be a big push to unite all young Malaysians in one school system. There should not be any discrimination between Malaysians based on race or religion.

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