On 1 April the Star Online reported that the minister in the Prime Minister ‘s Department in charge of national unity and wellbeing said the government would not table the two national harmony bills but was instead considering setting up a national harmony and reconciliation commission. Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM) as a coalition of civil society organisations is somewhat puzzled by this announcement of the government.
Just a few months back, the government had released the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) blueprint on national harmony and then sought feedback from the public through various town hall meetings and discussions.
A report was to have been made based on the findings and feedback from the public arising from the town hall meetings. Unfortunately, there was no news or information available regarding the report on the NUCC blueprint.
And now with this announcement, it leaves civil society in the dark as to the government’s plan to promote national unity and social wellbeing.
We also note that there is a lack of information on what the harmony bill is about and which the government has decided not to table. Nothing is said as to the provisions of the bill and in what way, in terms of content and substance, it is not needed.
Again it appears unclear to us how the government intends to protect and promote national harmony now that they have decided not to table the harmony bill.
GBM would therefore call on the government to have greater discussion and mutual consultation on the thrust towards national harmony and social wellbeing.
What is critically important at this juncture, aside from bills and intended legislation, is a roadmap and momentum in the pursuit of social cohesion, national unity and social wellbeing.
We are aware and take cognisance the government is doing its utmost to spearhead the momentum for greater unity and harmony, which civil society would very much wish to be a part of.
More discussion and mutual consultation would certainly help andm in this respect, GBM would be calling on the national unity and wellbeing minister soon for a discussion.
Zaid Kamaruddin is chairperson of Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia
on behalf of the following endorsing member organisations of GBM:
1) Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
2) Tindak Malaysia
3) LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG)
4) Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (Kami)
5) Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
6) Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF)
7) Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (Permas)
8) Partners in Community Organising (Pacos Trust, Sabah)
9) Monsoons Malaysia (MM)
10) Pusat Komas (Komas)
11) Merdeka University Bhd (MUB)
12) United Chinese School Alumni Association of Malaysia (UCSAAM)
13) Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)