25th August 2019
FOCUS ON THE ECONOMY AND STOP BICKERING ON RACIAL ISSUES
Patriot is glad that the planned anti-Zakir Naik rally has been called off. The Mumbai-born preacher has apologised and we hope that his apology is sincere and he has learnt his lesson not to thread on sensitive issues. Malaysians have long learnt that comparing religions to cast aspersion and labeling others as ‘pendatang’ are taboo subjects, and already buried them in the Jurassic park.
Let us now move on. We have for the past fifteen months wasted too much time bickering on the race-religion issues instigated by opposition parties, and the power struggle for domination within the PH coalition. This hampered efforts that could have been better used to put into works for the promised reforms.
We are now into the second year of PH governance. Unity among the various ethnic groups is nowhere better. Inter-ethnic distrust remains high, and so is inter-religion. The level of trust from among Sabahans and Sarawakians towards the federal government has not improved.
There is a saying in the military that there are no bad soldiers, only bad officers. Applying the analogy to political leadership, if the people are in disarray, disunited, un-driven for a common cause, then it reflects on the poor leadership of politicians. The cabinet has to take responsibility.
On August 20, at the Politeknik Ungku Omar convocation ceremony, DYMM Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah made a timely regal reminder. Sultan Nazrin said that extremism should not be allowed to undermine national unity, and that those with narrow and short-term political aim should not be allowed to hijack the voice of unity and moderation that has brought the people together since independence.
Acts and conduct that instigate hatred, sow enmity and distrust, irrespective of one’s status and position, must now stop. All, including politicians, should take heed of Sultan Nazrin’s advice. In this regard, Patriot supports IGP Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador that no more warning be given to those who incite racial and religious sensitivities. Culprits are to be arrested immediately.
Patriot urges our cabinet members to take note of our nation’s poverty rate, an issue that was highlighted on August 23 by the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston. Alston had disputed our official 0.4% poverty rate, or the threshold of RM980 monthly household income, and suggested the figure was way to low. The correct poverty rate, according to him, should be around 15%.
If Alston is correct, the 14.6% difference in miscalculating the poverty rate is a very serious omission. It has serious ramifications on our nation’s socio-economic policies, and the various five-year economic plans. It also means that our government policies have not been effective. Patriot is disappointed with Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s quick dismissal of Alston’s suggested figure, saying that it was a baseless claim. Azmin should rightfully ask his officers to reassess the statistics and the basis of the poverty line calculation. This denial syndrome of our government officials when suddenly caught with a blunder has to stop. Common sense will tell that a family of four will find it impossible to survive with a meager income of RM980 a month in the Klang Valley.
Patriot urges our PH leadership to focus on economic issues, including eradicating poverty completely, both rural and urban poverty. Opposition parties should play their rightful role to check on the PH government’s performance, and stop harping on race and religion issues from now on. We must all think as Malaysians and what is good for our country. Never forget that our destiny is shared.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan