By Erda Khursyiah Basir
KUALA LUMPUR Bernama) – Malaysians of all races will feel a sense of belonging if their rights are safeguarded and no one is made to feel marginalised and unappreciated.
If every Malaysian were to harbour this feeling of sense of belonging, they would all strive to protect and defend their nation from any threat, regardless of whether they belong to a majority or minority race or live in the peninsula, Sabah or Sarawak.
Prof Dr Jayum Anak Jawan, a professor in politics and government at Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Human Ecology and who is also the university’s first appointee to the Tan Sri Empiang Jabu Research Chair, said to realise this, all ethnic groups must have representation from the grassroots to the highest levels in various fields.
“Opportunities should be given to all races and the distribution of power should be done accordingly. This includes allocating certain (government) posts for representatives of Sabah and Sarawak ethnic groups in order to involve them in the administration of the nation,” he told Bernama.
Jayum, who is a Dayak Iban and hails from Sungai Assan in Sibu, Sarawak, said minority groups are not demanding for an equal number of seats in Parliament or for all their leaders to be given federal appointments.
“As long as the ethnic groups have their respective representatives (at the federal level), the sense of togetherness will exist,” he said, adding that no minority group should be denied its rights as all of them are contributing to the progress and development of this nation.
“Denying them their rights is akin to discrimination, which will only stifle efforts to foster unity in this country’s plural society.”
UPHOLD RUKUN NEGARA PRINCIPLES
Stressing that the people’s appreciation of the Rukun Negara principles can contribute towards feeling a sense of belonging to the nation, Jayum said Malaysians should refer to the five tenets – Belief in God, Loyalty to King and Country, Upholding the Constitution, Rule of Law and Good Behaviour and Morality – to guide them in their daily lives.
Fifty years have gone since the fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Zainal Abidin proclaimed the national principles on Aug 31, 1970, and it is time Malaysians became more mature and learned to coexist with one another, as well as view their racial and cultural differences as an asset for the nation, he said.
He also said that the winds of change have been blowing through the nation's political landscape since 2018 when the popularity of race-based political parties started to dip.
“In today’s political scenario, political parties must get the support of all races (in order to rule the nation). As such, all parties have to be balanced (in their views and support) so that the people, as voters, have confidence in them,” he added.
Meanwhile, Suney Leo Ertza Neo Sulaiman, who is a member of the Development and Safety Committee (Youth Bureau) at Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Kiol in Jerantut, Pahang, said racial stereotyping must stop and so must the use of words or terms deemed derogatory to certain ethnic groups.
Only mutual respect for one another’s way of life, culture and language can ensure harmony in a multiracial and multi-religious society, said Suney Leo, who hails from the Che Wong Orang Asli group.
“There are still people who belittle the Orang Asli’s looks, lack of skills and backwardness. They may say it in jest but such a thing will not happen if mutual respect exists among the races,” he said.
LAG BEHIND IN EDUCATION
Stressing that minority groups also deserve to enjoy the fruits of the nation’s prosperity, he said they should also get to benefit from infrastructure development such as tarred roads, clean water and electricity supplies and communication networks.
“These are now the basic necessities of life and if we have minorities still demanding for them, then it’s time the authorities went on the ground to see how certain ethnic groups live, especially those who live in the interior,” he said.
Suney Leo also said there are still many Orang Asli children and youths who are lagging behind in education and he urged the Department for Orang Asli Development to search for a better mechanism to prod the Orang Asli to get out of their comfort zone.
On the level of patriotism among the Orang Asli, he said they are not only patriotic but also have a lot of respect for the Rukun Negara.
“But the way they express their patriotism may be different and the general public might find it difficult to evaluate it,” he added.
To strengthen the spirit of patriotism among the Orang Asli, said Suney Leo, the government should consider declaring a public holiday in recognition of their festivals.
“We are also hoping the government would allocate more reserve land for the Orang Asli,” he said, adding that the Orang Asli and Sabah and Sarawak ethnic communities should also be represented in the nation’s unity agenda so that no one feels left out.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysia National News Agency
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