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Opinion

Wednesday, 16 May 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

Stop the scaremongering tactics

NOW that the dust of GE14 is almost settled, many may think its outcome was a great wake-up call for Barisan Nasional and its supporters.

Well, I think the outcome should serve as a wake-up call for everyone, including Pakatan Harapan and its supporters too. In fact, it should be a wake-up call for everyone whether you voted on that fateful May 9 or chose to stay at home and continued to watch the events of the last four days unfold without having directly participated in a historic occasion for our beloved country.

We all need to wake up and change our way of thinking and earnestly build our country to a higher level of morality together. It doesn’t matter if we supported a particular party, we need to get out of our respective comfort zones and help move the country along.

While we are glad that the racial and religious scaremongering tactics seem not to have worked, there is still a significant number of our fellow citizens who may have succumbed to such dirty tactics.

The stark difference in voting patterns among the three east coast states in Peninsular Malaysia may be partly attributed to the influence of such sentiments given the large target population of Malays/Muslims in these constituencies.

I myself received numerous messages during the campaign period (and still receiving some through WhatsApp) aimed solely at creating racial mistrust and raising fear of losing our rights as Malays and Muslims.

There has been no appeal for rational thinking from personalities like Ustaz Nik Omar that would change the baseless perception of giving away “our rights” to “other people” if we voted for a particular party.

These scaremongering tactics unfortunately have not ceased even after GE14 and in the midst of the formation of a new government. Cyber troopers are still hard at work, trying to create animosity among the races or at least to make a section of the community lose confidence in the new government even as it is being formed.

Perhaps the best way to prevent such news from influencing a significant number of the voters may need to start at an early stage – in primary school. We should instil the right attitude from an early age of being Malaysians and to respect all races.

Lim Guan Eng’s response, “I don’t consider myself as a Chinese, I consider myself as a Malaysian”, was exemplary. For those who think Lim said this because he is playing the politician, you are wrong. His Malaysia-first attitude was clear even during his student days at Monash University, Australia, where I also studied.

So where do we start? I know that many people may disagree with me but the following are some suggestions (these are by no means new suggestions).

For a start, we should seriously consider dismantling the vernacular school system. Inevitably, such a system divides children along racial lines, whether we like it or not. There is no sensible justification that could be used to deny this fact.

In parallel, or prior to dismantling the vernacular schools, we should enhance the current national school system to be more dynamic and inclusive, where everyone feels happy and accepted in the school environment.

The “Islamisation” in some of our national schools must stop despite all the good intentions of our education system. Whether this is real or mere perception is arguable. What is really happening in some schools needs to be corrected.

Furthermore, the use of proper Bahasa Malaysia, especially spoken BM, should be strengthened. This is our national language and until we practise what we preach, it will not be the common language that bonds us together.

English should continue to be improved with a good supply of capable teachers; and a third language, particularly Mandarin, Tamil, other Malaysian indigenous languages and perhaps Arabic, should be officially taught in our national schools. Knowing an additional language would certainly enhance our integration and understanding and also improve the chances of employment in the future.

We should include subjects like “adat resam, budaya dan agama rakyat Malaysia” and “civic-mindedness” to encourage every child to learn and respect the diversity in this country. Hopefully, a properly structured move towards integration and not mere lip service will help change the mindset of our future generations so that the scaremongers would have fewer reasons to work through racial/religious sentiments.

At the tertiary level, some changes are also necessary. Whether people realise it or not, we have race-based universities! Perhaps a rebranding is needed. For example, UiTM could rebrand itself as a champion of B40s, which inevitably would include a great number of bumiputras anyway. Some courses like Tamadun Islam dan Tamadun Asia can be moved to secondary school to make way for new courses that should include the arts and humanities with science, technology and communication.

And while the new leaders of our country are crafting ways to improve the nation, the best that everyone should do now is to ignore and, more importantly, stop forwarding any messages that have even the slightest hint of dissent, whether it is racial or religious in nature or touching on sensitive issues like royalty or choice of ministers.

Almost 50 years ago on May 13, we witnessed a dark episode in our history that started because of these very sentiments. Sadly, some of us are still influenced by the disturbing scaremongering tactics that still abound in cyberspace. Perhaps the next generation of Malaysians will no longer be influenced by such petty and baseless emotions if they are more accepting of other fellow Malaysians.

The whole world was pleasantly surprised at how peaceful the transition of power happened in our beloved country, and now we should show the world that after a hard-fought election, everybody stands united to make Malaysia a great nation together.

We should respect everyone, even the “losers” of GE14, because they form an important part of the political ecosystem to provide a check and balance to the government so that we will not return to the state we were in before.

Let us wake up, search our individual conscience and ask ourselves how we can contribute to making Malaysia a great country – for our future generations and ourselves.

NORAZMI MOHD NOR

Kota Baru