Nation has never been so divided: Don

(The Sun Daily) – Unity in Malaysia has reached its lowest ever point and analysts agree that the causes of such a significant decline are politics and the National Economic Policy (NEP).

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said toxic politics has divided the people not only along racial lines but also in ideology.

“These factors have not only torn the different races apart, but also caused splits among people within the same racial group.

“For instance, Malays are no longer united because many have different political ideologies and belong to various political parties,” Azmi told theSun.

He was commenting on a report that a secondary school in Johor had set conditions for co-curricular activities based on race.

For instance, only Malay students are allowed to play football and sepak takraw while Chinese are confined to basketball and table tennis.

The report drew consternation and criticism from various quarters, including Senior Minister (Education) Datuk Radzi Jidin, who expressed shock and disappointment over the move.

Azmi said the NEP has been another divisive factor. “The policy should be about helping the poor irrespective of race or where they come from.”

Centre for Public Policy Studies at the Asia Strategic Leadership Institute chairman Ramon Navaratnam said the underlying issue affecting unity is the NEP.

“The NEP was meant to help the poor without taking into account their race or religion. Unfortunately, it has been used as a passport for a certain group of people to obtain licences and permits to carry out certain very lucrative businesses.”

Ramon, who had a hand in formulating the policy, said it was never meant to be used the way it is today.

“Now a person can get what he wants if he has the right connections in the civil service. This has been exacerbated by what our politicians have learned from the British – divide and rule. This is against our national interests.”

National Unity Advisory Board member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said unity had deteriorated rapidly in the last 10 to 15 years.

“After independence right up to the 1980s, we were a very harmonious society. People were happy to give and take and we respected one another.

“We have lost this Muhibbah spirit. There is no longer such goodwill. People today have no regard for the sensitivities of others and mutual respect has been lost.”

Lee attributed the decline in unity to social media, a medium that many have used to make comments without any regard for the feelings of others.

He lamented the fact that despite all its achievements, Malaysia is unable to move forward as a people.