Referring to the article by TK Chua (12th January 2018) titled We can’t talk ourselves to National Unity, there are elements in it that need to be seriously reflected upon, especially given the casual presumptions trumpeted in the article.  If this is an attitude which reflects the mentality of Malaysian society when it comes to how we engage with political discourse, then the outlook for a more harmonious Malaysia is starting to look far more bleak than ever, especially when we can so easily excuse potential future leaders from not even stating their commitment to something that is as ‘natural’ and ‘implicit’ as national unity.

For Pakatan Harapan to not even state their commitment to National Unity reflects rather negatively on them as it points to not only their lack of commitment to national unity, but quite possibly that they are more driven by the desperate rush to seize power from the present ruling government. Any meaningful benefits to the progress of national unity and societal harmony are secondary.

Such a brazen lack of commitment ultimately indicates what kind of policies, programmes and actions this potential ruling government is willing to enforce and this should be something that we as concerned citizens should hold them accountable for so that they live up to the standard which we have set for them.

To simply brush it off and state that Unity is a “natural goal” and should be “implicit in all government actions” is an extremely erroneous and frankly irresponsible position to take on the matter.

If such things were truly implicit for governments, then why should governments bother to make any outward commitment to issues such as combating corruption, as that too is implicit in a government’s responsibility towards the people? The Pakatan manifesto does pledge to fight corruption.  Such a pledge becomes all the more important precisely because there is corruption at all levels and within all sectors of society. Likewise, it is precisely because there is a lack of unity in society and polarisation is getting worse that it is critical to commit one’s coalition to national unity.

When serious challenges arise in society, those already in power and those seeking to attain power have the responsibility to state what their intentions and commitments are. Can you truly trust a government that does not even bother to pen down their commitments within their manifesto, and simply depends upon their implicit goodwill and their adherence to some natural goal to fulfil their obligation to the people? That is simply ridiculous.

We need to now, more than ever, make a stand as Malaysians that the call for Unity is paramount to the integrity and order of Malaysian society. We should demand that our elected leaders take this issue seriously and state their commitment to it both in their principles and in their actions.

We should also support efforts to empower the Rukun Negara as it provides the most grounded basis for ensuring the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law. This goes far above and beyond any single political party or government institution, and is a greater driving force for unity and social cohesion. One only has to look at our counterparts in Indonesia and see how the Pancasila has served as the focal point for unifying the various social segments within Indonesian society. Why can we not achieve the same with our own Rukun Negara?

Divisive forces both within and without threaten to break this fabric of unity for their own agendas and selfish gains, and we have a responsibility, at the very least, to keep our own leaders accountable.

This is why it does matter that Pakatan Harapan has not explicitly included the goal of national unity in its manifesto because it potentially reflects on what their intended policies, programmes and actions may be, should they come to power. If they do not even commit to national unity in words, what action can we expect from them?

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