As we remember our first Prime Minister's birthday today (he was born on 8 Feb 1903), this story in today's The Malaysian Insider, which reports on a speech by 26-year-old Tunku Zain Al-Abidin Muhriz, is an exceptionally good read.
Tunku Zain is the second son of the new Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan. He's also the founder of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas), a new think-tank set up to promote democratic ideals rooted in Tunku Abdul Rahman’s vision for the country.
Here is an excerpt from the news item:
To him, the Tunku was a man and leader that believed in unity and a Malaysia for all.
He had wanted to steer Malaysia in that direction, towards building a foundation of liberty and justice when he fought for independence, said Zain.
But amid the “Allah” row and the raging communal politicking, Zain said the country “has taken the wrong direction”.
Zain said that the country is now plagued by patronage politics which makes “seeking for political office for the suicidal and the deranged.”
“It is clear that Tunku was a proponent of Malay unity, but it was unity in conjunction with Malayan and Malaysian unity. Today, so many who champion “Malay unity” do so in opposition to perceived threats, for the purpose of intimidating others or for Machiavellian politics. I fear that this important distinction has been lost as the term has bandied about by those with divisive agenda,” he said.
Zain then said there have been many slogans employed by the Tunku’s successors, the latest being current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia concept, an idea similar to the Tunku’s Malaysia for all.
“To my mind these are all mere reaffirmations of what was an articulate vision for the country from the moment Tunku read out the Proclamation of Independence. Despite these slogans, the standing of our institutions has withered. Tunku could never have imagined there to be such cynicism and distrust,” he said.