In 1996, when I was 32 years of age, The STAR interviewed me for the first time. At the time I suggested that it is wiser to open the MARA colleges and ITM (now UITM) for non-bumis and having a single stream school system. My stand is still the same today.
Here are some of the points suggested.
1. Placed in a global situation, we should fare better than homogenous societies for we have the experience of working with varieties kinds of people.
2. We must see multi-racial Malaysia as an opportunity for creating universally-oriented men and women who would, one day, take centre-stage in leading the world.
3. But in order to achieve this kind of unity, Malaysians must first understand and accept two things: First, we have to understand and appreciate the fact that the Malays gave away what they called “The Malay Land’ (Tanah Melayu) and shared it with other ethnic groups like the Chinese and Indians, so much so that they have created a new entity called Malaysia. The Malays became a community within a community.
4. Secondly, since 1957, the non-Bumis have accepted and made this country their country. So, from now onwards, whether we like it or not, a new race called Bangsa Malaysia has come into being.
5. Efforts in building unity must start at the earliest age possible. Parents must ensure that their own personal biases are not filtered down to their children.
6. The school too plays a vital role in uniting all Malaysians. In the long run, it would be wiser and more beneficial to open all boarding schools like Mara, ITM, and Maktab Sains to all races. (One of the most important part in education is socialization)
7. The current national school system integrates the Chinese, Tamil and Arab schools under one roof. The ideal situation would be if the national school caters to those who desire to learn their mother tongue. It would be even better if we make it compulsory for all Malaysians to learn a language other than English and their mother tongue
8. For example, a Malay student should learn either Mandarin or Tamil as a second language. I think the Malays are presently on the losing end. The Chinese or Indians know at least three languages, but most Malays know only two.
9. Barisan Nasional’s efforts toward creating a single multi-racial party should be our next step. I believe most Malaysians would find it attractive if there is a direct membership to BN without having to go through UMNO, MIC or MCA. Perhaps after Wawasan 2020, Umno can stand for United Malaysian National Organisation.
10. At the end of the day, the move towards national unity should come from within each and every one of us. Every individual in this country must be aware that he or she plays a vital role. We should not unite due to political or economics reasons but because we truly desire to be one nation.
11. The Muslims must also remember that the Al-Quran preaches ummah wahidah, the concept is led by Muslims, this would be a great opportunity for them to practise this concept