We all recognize the mantra of Snow White’s evil stepmother. Our public apathy around certain issues brings to mind the “wicked “queen’s mantra. We gaze at aspects of our reflection as we think all is more or less well, and, yes, we are the greatest country with greatest internal policy.
I am now asking our Prime Minister YAB Tun Mahathir and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, to look at the magic mirror and ask themselves which nation is the fairest as being most just and fair. One should look at oneself first in the mirror to identify one’s flaws and to correct them, to set them right before being too quick to jump at another nation’s internal immigration laws. One should refrain from making statements as emotional outburst that hurt other nations.
Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s criticism of India’s new citizenship law are not in sync with established diplomatic practice of non-interference in any country’s internal affairs. This was despite such principles and purposes being outlined by the Charter of the United Nations on non-intervention into the internal affairs of another foreign state.
If Malaysia starts to interfere with the internal laws of other countries, then it will open up to a lot of interpretation on non-interference policy amongst nations.
For example, some may view democracy in Malaysia as being very limited in its true sense compared with the practice in India. So does India or Singapore have the right to interfere in Malaysia’s affairs? On that note, I think PM Modi would be very keen to interfere in Malaysia’s affairs using the same argument. Why go far. Didn’t Malaysia tell PM Modi off when India asked why Zakir Naik, the wanted fugitive of India was granted permanent residency in Malaysia?
Citizenship in Malaysia and the rights that are attached to it, as we all are well aware are divided between Bumiputeras and the non -Malays. Hence, the special privileges that are accorded to Bumiputeras although have been accepted by non-Malays, remain as a double standard in the context of equality as enshrined in our Federal Constitution. Against this backdrop, we should refrain from criticizing other nations that eventually bring criticism upon ourselves.
Our nation should indeed be practicing equitable distribution of rights before we run down the policies of a foreign nation. Yes. We need to look at our magic mirror to assess if we are exercising just and fair policies for all in our own nation before pointing fingers at others.
I am astonished at the perception of the Malay world- the remarks the leaders of the Malay world are making that are insinuating and insulting the other races and religion is indeed totally unwelcome. Malay ethnicity and identity is not singular. It is not homogenous but multiple. It’s an undisputed fact that the Malays are a multi-ethnic people, inhabiting Malaysia as a nation-state, the homeland of the Malay archipelago and the Malay world stretching from the Indian to the Pacific Oceans. History dictates the origin of Malay archipelago was a Hindu world. Over history, it evolved into an Islamic stretch of nations.
Even on the issue of introducing Khat it must be highlighted that India has never imposed any educational policies on its non-Hindu citizens to study Sanskrit! But Malaysia had imposed the learning of Jawi in government schools those days and we the non Muslims adhered to the learning of Jawi. But why introduce Khat in vernacular schools when the issue of vernacular schools is diverse between the fully aided and the partially aided schools. Playing up issues surrounding the implementation of a government policy to create further diversity in our multi racial society is totally unacceptable.
Using the history of Malay Archipelago to entrench the teaching of Khat in vernacular schools certainly cannot hold water. Likewise, curbing the non- Muslims from avenues to show their opposing views on implementation of the government policy on Khat is totally unacceptable against a democratic backdrop. The citizens should be allowed and given access to air their opinion and perception on a government policy. Then it’s up to the government of the day to make a decision on whether their views would be taken into account or otherwise.
I am appalled at the uncalled for statements made by our leaders against India’s internal policies and laws. We should not make any statements when we are ill-informed of the exact terms of a policy. Neither should we make statements as emotional outburst in the name of religious solidarity. I note that our Muslim leaders have not highlighted which part of the immigration laws of India that they are against had offended the international law, if any? All nations have their legitimate reasons to introduce and implement a specific policy or law and should not be open for unfounded ridicule based on mere solidarity of emotions.
We live in a multi ethnic, multi religious, multi cultural world. Malaysia is a clear example of such pluralism. I don’t deny that as a nation, with various policies and disagreements we have endured it all in the name of harmony.
But that does not license us to point out how India should manage its nation. We cannot stand with serious cracks in our own structure of democracy and frays to the fabric of multi-religious society and call out the crack within another nation.
Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror. If we assess the current state of affairs in the nation, won’t we be asking ourselves whether we are the fairest leader, fairest nation? Can we maintain our objectivity? Will the mirror be honest? What do you think? I believe that there is a risk that the mirror will lose its objectivity. Who to blame? The one in the mirror!
Sorry to say but for me it seems that this logic is increasingly gaining ground. Me, myself and I, my race my religion– we beat them all. We are pushing our own religious agenda without paying attention to how our actions and perceptions affect other races and religion and other nations and measure our belief and perception against our own illusion without emotional outburst.
Ultimately, the bluff will be called. The Evil Queen got to face the truth. “Malaysia is not the fairest of them all”! So, what was the whole story about? Leaders should not be too quick to attack policies of other nations instead our own internal policies must be checked to accommodate all ethnicity in a fair and just manner. Maybe Malaysia has to take a few lessons on unity in diversity from its bigger Muslim counterparts like Indonesia.
Lets concentrate on our own issues to make Malaysia a better place to live in so that one day when as ask the mirror it will say you are the fairest of them all.
-By TAN SRI DATO SRI SA VIGNESWARAN
- The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the office he is holding.