Co-President Gan Ping Sieu on The Malay Dignity Congress
Tuesday, October 08, 2019
The government needs to set the record straight on its stance over the resolutions raised during last Sunday's Malay Dignity Congress. Under normal circumstances, issues raised during any non-governmental gatherings would strictly be a private affair. It is part of citizens' rights to assemble and express their opinions.

But Sunday's gathering was graced by the Prime Minister and attended by senior members of his administration. Their presence would have lent an officious air to the event. And the resolutions and issues raised were highly contentious, such as reviewing the social contract, closing down vernacular schools and reserving senior positions in the government to only one community.

Worse still, the event was co-organised by public universities, which is most unbefitting of tertiary academic institutions for students for all communities, and they are largely funded by public coffers.

Until and unless the government explicitly states its position on these highly contentious issues, the views raised there will be perceived to have the tacit endorsement of the administration.

This does not bode well at a time when we need to reverse the rapid advancement of right-wing posturing, in favour of more centrist policies.

We respect the rights of any groups or individuals to air their opinions, but as a body that promotes moderation, we are against any posturing that veers to any extremes in the political spectrum. Such extreme positions should not receive any official or academic sanction, whether tacitly or otherwise.

We are also in full support of Minister of International Trade and Industry, Darrell Leiking for cautioning the organisers of last Sunday's gathering against minority-bashing. He had rightly pointed out that doing this will only lead to a more polarised society.

That being the case, any forums organised along racial lines now is counterproductive. At a time when we are facing mounting challenges on the socio-economic fronts, we should be focussing our resources on education, economic competitiveness and rising costs of living.

Obsession with racial-religious rhetoric will get us nowhere and can in fact, impede our nation-building process. It's time we look beyond narrow communal interests and put national interests first.

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