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Malaysia does not need another communitarian party that caters to the primary concerns of a particular ethnic or religious community, says Farish A Noor. We already forced have too many parties based on ethnic and religious loyalties, and yet another sectarian party like Mindraf will hardly bring us any closer to a Malaysia where identity is based on universal citizenship and equal rights.

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The official use of the songkok has always been embroiled in controversy, be it the requirement for state assemblymen’s swearing in or non-Malay students attending a university convocation. The songkok really has nothing to do with religion or ethnic identity, says our special correspondent.

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am coverWhat does Anwar Ibrahim think of the controversy surrounding Article 121(1A) and the judiciary? In a cover story interview with the reformasi icon, we get him to speak frankly about the state of inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations, especially in the light of the Moorthy Maniam case and the aborted Article 11 Coalition road-show last year. He talks about his own efforts at encouraging intra-Muslim dialogue and then takes a critical look at the state of the judiciary today, including former Lord President Tun Salleh’s attempt to clear his name.

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badawiJohn Hilley argues that curbs on the discussion of racial and religious issues not only breed suspicion, resentment and disunity but foster Vision-type notions of national unity popularised by big leaders.Malaysians do know how to debate and disagree civilly. They must reclaim this right.

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There are some lessons we can learn from India whose medieval society was more religiously tolerant and open, says Asghar Ali Engineer. But divide-and-rule colonial tactics and politically divisive forces have created communal and religious divisions in their competition for power, threatening India’s secularism in the process.  

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