Aliran Monthly 26: 6 editor’s note

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am latest cover 26: 6Our cover story focuses on the slide in ethnic relations in Malaysia. Johan Abdullah senses a rise in the number of worrying incidents that have affected ethnic relations. He goes on to review how the character of ethnic relations may have changed over the years and provides a new context for understanding ethnic relations.

To better manage ethnic relations, we need to be aware of our own prejudices and to stretch the borders of the self. Reflecting on the controversial university ethnic relations course guidebooks, Wong Soak Koon argues that the course should instead stimulate critical thinking while examining the legacies of history. 

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.   

In Malaysia, we are some way off from realising our vision of a Bangsa Malaysia. Ethnic-based economic policies are undermining this aspiration, warns Terence Gomez. Government policies should be universal in orientation, aimed at helping all in need, regardless of their ethnicity. 

So much money that could have been used to help the poor has been drained as a result of financial scandals. K J Khoo takes a thorough look at Bank Negara’s inexcusable and unexplained RM9.3 billion forex losses and raises several key questions that demand answers.  

Jeyakumar Devaraj, for his part, is perplexed by the Perak state government’s decision to raise water tariffs when the Perak Water Board has been making profits. Angeline Loh, meanwhile, points out that Penangites are totally fed up with the empty promises to improve bus services in the state.

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