My 1Malaysia

What is ‘1Malaysia’?

Is it ‘Bangsa Malaysia’? ‘Malaysian Malaysia’? Unity in diversity? National unity? Upholding the status quo? Moving away from affirmative action? Ensure no race is marginalized whilst practising affirmative action? Assimilation? Integration?

By now, everyone should have heard of the slogan introduced by Mr. Najib Razak, in his very first speech as prime minister. Yet, the actual definition of the concept has thus far been ambiguous. It would seem that the meaning of the concept differs depending on who one talks to.

For example, Utusan Malaysia recently provided its take on the definition. According to the Malay broadsheet, ‘1Malaysia ‘ is a concept in which no ethnicity will be marginalized yet at the same time affirmative action in favour of the Malays will still be continued. Utusan even cautioned certain quarters that have used the ‘1Malaysia’ concept to ask for a revision into what is considered to be our ‘official history’ as narrated by the textbooks that our schoolchildren use. According to Awang Selamat, the psuedonym used by the editors of Utusan, ‘he’ is ‘disturbed’ (terganggu) that the discussion on 1Malaysia has encroached even into our history books.

Following up on this editorial on ‘1Malaysia’, Utusan sought the views of certain Malay leaders on the concept. Independent MP (and President of the Malay ethno-nationalist group PERKASA) warned that should 1Malaysia be equated with ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ (introduced by the DAP), PERKASA would not hesitate to ‘oppose’ them (menentang). “This is not Singapore,” said the outspoken politician.

The discourse on ‘1Malaysia’ in the English dailies are markedly different. The concept is equated with unity, of Malaysians finding strength in diversity, of being multi-racial yet Malaysian at the same time. For example, Dr. Denison Jayasooria was quoted in the Star as saying that 1Malaysia “…gives a clearer picture of unity in diversity, taking a pluralistic and integrationist approach. If the idea is unpacked in practical dimensions, we might be able to really see major changes in the future.” Certainly a far cry from the discussion in Utusan Malaysia.

Thus it would seem that everyone has their own opinion on what is ‘1Malaysia’.

Such diverse definitions on the concept may be good for discussions, yet it would be a difficult goal to achieve collectively for the simple fact that the very definition of that ‘goal’ differs depending on the person. But for argument’s sake, allow me to share with you what 1Malaysia means to me.

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