Yayasan 1Malaysia (Y1M) is now known as Yayasan Perpaduan Malaysia.

The decision to change its name was made by the Y1M Board of Trustees at its 34th meeting on the 24th of April 2018. The change was subsequently endorsed at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) of the membership on the 31st of May 2018. The Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) gave its approval on the 1st of June 2018.

Y1M made this decision mainly because of the negative connotation associated with the name ‘1Malaysia’ in the wake of the 1MDB scandal. Public perceptions had developed in such a way that our work as an organisation dedicated to national unity was adversely affected, though Y1M and 1MDB are totally different entities without any link whatsoever. I often joked that Y1M was about dreams while 1MDB was about debts.

Moreover, Y1M had taken a strong position against 1MDB’s blatant wrongdoings. Between February 2015 and May 2017, I had written 18 articles criticising the dishonesty and deception that riddled 1MDB’s nefarious activities. Like many others, I called for accountability and for action to be taken against the culprits.

I had argued that integrity is fundamental to unity. It is a virtue that brings diverse communities together in a common commitment to a common struggle. The people’s response to the 1MDB scandal is proof of this.

Because of Y1M’s stand, we have had to pay a price. The tenancy on our office rented from the government which expired in May 2016 has not been renewed to this day. We have made numerous attempts to have the tenancy agreement extended but to no avail.

It shows that on a major issue of public concern that undermined the nation’s integrity, the Najib government had no qualms about punishing an independent voice of reason. It is a sad truth that often those in authority marginalise those who are independent and determined to adhere to principles. What they expect is blind loyalty to their interests — even if this means acquiescing with their wrongdoings.

To be fair to the former Prime Minister, until the 1MDB episode, he showed some respect for Y1M’s independence. Though he was the Y1M patron from the very inception of the organisation in July 2009 and had facilitated a modest launch grant from the government, neither he nor his office expressed their reservations about some of Y1M’s viewpoints that were diametrically different from what the government advocated. But then the ultimate test of one’s democratic credentials is when a citizens’ group adopts a position that challenges the core interests of those in power.

Yayasan Perpaduan Malaysia pledges to continue to remain independent of both the new government and the new opposition and of other dominant interests in society. It will attempt to speak truth to power motivated by neither fear nor favour. Only then will it be able to help promote the larger cause of national unity for the well-being of the Malaysian people.

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