(The Malaysian Insider) – Opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim has ripped into the Najib administration’s 1Malaysia concept, calling it cosmetic and nothing more than a bald-faced political move to try and win back support from non-Malays.
This is the first time that the leader of Pakatan Rakyat has come out in such strong terms against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s main theme since he became Prime Minister on April 3.
Other Opposition politicians have questioned what 1Malaysia really means but Anwar gutted the whole concept, pointing out that Najib’s comments about unity and togetherness are only for public consumption.
Behind the scenes, the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) is still continuing their indoctrination programmes for Malay civil servants and politicians, telling Malays to be wary of Chinese and Indians.
Anwar’s attack on the 1 Malaysia concept also betrays a growing uneasiness among the Opposition on Barisan Nasional’s charm offensive to regain the support of non-Malay voters, the segment of voters who since Election 2008 have become a reliable vote bank for Pakatan Rakyat.
The support among Chinese and Indians for the Opposition has grown steadily since March 8 last year as a result of frustration over excesses of Umno, abuses under the New Economic Policy and lack of respect for the rights of non-Malays.
Faced with the real possibility of losing more ground with this important constituency and sensing that the fracture of race relations was reaching a dangerous stage, Najib’s team cobbled together the 1 Malaysia platform.
It has yet to be fleshed out but the concept promotes the idea that all Malaysians should feel as one and that no one will be left behind, regardless of race and religion.
The new administration has also liberalised the financial services sector and attempted to solve the thorny issues of conversion of children to Islam when marriages breakdown.
Nothing has been said about dismantling the NEP or spelling out how equality can be achieved among Malaysians with the main architecture of affirmative action is still in place and the Malay-centric civil service calling the shots at implementation stage.
In his latest blog posting, Anwar noted that Umno called Pakatan Rakyat the tool of the Chinese and also hammered the DAP as a chauvinist party for its Malaysian Malaysia concept.
“Now finding that the support of Chinese and Indians to Umno-BN is dropping drastically, we hear the slogan 1Malaysia being used.
“If we delve more deeply into this concept, we find that what is practised is only cosmetic or botox. The liberalisation is only to win over rich Chinese entrepreneurs but will have no impact on the projects and contracts of their cronies,” he said, adding that more pressing issues of leakages, transparency and corruption were not addressed under the 1 Malaysia slogan.
In contrast, he noted the Malaysian Economic Agenda promoted by Pakatan Rakyat focused on what was good for the common man, especially the underprivileged Malay-Bumiputeras, Chinese and Indians.
Anwar wondered how it was possible to talk about 1Malaysia when the reality on the ground was so different. He zoomed in on the courses run by BTN, a unit in the Prime Minister’s Department.
In the mainstream media the talk is about unity under 1Malaysia but in the BTN courses they push narrow Malay interests and slam politicians like Anwar and Pas spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat for working with other races, Anwar said.
He wondered why BTN blamed other races and not the big criminals and corrupt individuals who have caused Malays to face hardship after 50 years of Umno rule.
Anwar’s sniping has set the tempo for the Opposition’s campaign to puncture the 1Malaysia concept. It could also spark a race between BN and the Opposition to prove their Malaysian credentials.