PM Najib's 1Malaysia is an attractive concept that most Malaysians will be able to accept if his leadership shows some seriousness in implementing it. However, it is quite clear that his party and his leadership prefer Malay unity over 1Malaysia during a political crisis.
UMNO is facing one of the most daunting political challenges since the leadership tussle in 1986-7 between two of its top leaders. It could be facing a permanent lost of support from non-Malay voters in the next few general elections unless its leadership starts to accept its wider responsibility of governing a multiracial society.
It is unfortunate for UMNO to read the lost of support from non-Malay voters as a sign of threat from the communities. Some of the party leaders had accused the non-Malays for making excessive demands and questioning the Malay special rights.
Hence, the party warlords have been urging the party to court PAS, the second most influential Malay Muslim party, to initiate a Malay unity.
Sadly, this unity is not a solution to remedy the community's backwardness. A Malay unity cannot be formed on the basis of revenge or hate against other communities. It will not become a potent force which can help to transform the community's fortune. It must be formed on the basis of grit, determination, awareness and a strong will to enhance the capacity of the community.
However UMNO may perceive of the community's mindset, there has been a monumental change in the last few years. Some Malay leaders have openly debated and argued against the kind of protectionist and racial politics played by UMNO and its supporters. Many of them have done it in a commendably intellectual manner - through creativity (cartoons) and in writing. They have inspired a great number of Malay youths to think beyond the racial dogma created by UMNO. Some UMNO leaders, the enlightened ones, have urged the party to change its way or risks being buried politically.
Organizations like Perkasa was not able to mobilize the Malay masses. Most of its members came UMNO members which explains the symbiotic relationship between the two and sometimes the desperation of UMNO in trying to get the Malays to back its effort to intimidate the non-Malays to support them without condition. Dr M had used the May 13 incident in most of the general elections he had participated to intimidate the non-Malays.
Unfortunately, the world around us has changed. The political climate within the country has changed too. Ultimately, some of the Malays may ask the main purpose of Malay unity. Poverty and backwardness still felt by a large portion of the Bumiputera community was not inflicted by the non-Malays. In fact, a great number of non-Malay Bumiputeras were neglected by the system created by the ruling regime. A number of Malays were victims of corruption and nepotism enabled by the NEP.
It is easy for the ruling party, UMNO, to call for a Malay unity. It is harder for the party leadership to explain the need of Malay unity or what it can do to help address the multifarious problems faced by the community. It cannot help to curb corruption, nepotism, wastage and abuse of power.
To the other non-Malay component parties in BN, they should be wondering why the lead party is making such a parochial call instead of addressing a larger issue of BN is no longer seen as representing all Malaysians. 1Malaysia is facing a great threat every time UMNO is calling for Malay unity.
It will come a time when members of these component parties will ask their leadership the purpose of sticking around a coalition that exists only in name and not in spirit.
PM Najib will have to be decisive in his choice. He must choose between Malay unity and 1Malaysia. He must do it now.
His administration should focus on real issues and challenges and not on the non-Malays. It is a fact that the country's economic model is failing. Our education system is fast becoming a sick 'institution' in Asia. We are not able to create more jobs, attract more investments and stop the slide. He cannot just speak reform but he must actually implement his talk.
This is a time when we need workable solutions and not more empty talks, crazy propositions and lofty unity ideas.