Politicians blamed for poor race relations

Posted by Penarik Beca Wednesday, September 24, 2008

NST (20/9/08): A historian has blamed politicians for the country's deteriorating race relations.

Racial politics were souring relations, Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim told a forum on integrity held at the Institut Integrity Malaysia yesterday.

"Every time there is an election, they will instigate by raising racial issues. In politics, they always try to find shortcuts," he said.

Khoo said the government should get the politicians to stop making such statements.

"There is no use in making such statements. All you get is heartache," he said.
Speaking to reporters later, Khoo said the politicians should be ready to serve sincerely.

"Currently, many politicians have their own agenda. However, they should realise that they are accountable to the rakyat," he said.

Khoo said the Sedition Act was sufficient to handle individuals who created unrest, adding that the Internal Security Act was "not right" and went against the beliefs currently held by most governments in the world.

On the proposed Race Relations Act aimed at strengthening ties among the different races, Khoo said non-governmental organisations and other sectors of society could be approached for feedback, but politicians should be the last choice in providing input for the law.

"The idea is good, but we still have to see what the contents are. Maybe we can get input from other sectors as well as NGOs. Politicians should be avoided if it is possible," he added.

Khoo said Malaysia was a complex country with its people coming from three major countries -- Indonesia, China and India.

"Some of them brought ideals from their home countries and what they experienced at the time pulled them apart."

Another speaker at the forum, social anthropologist Sarjit S. Gill said politicians today were to blame for the increasing rift between the races.

"The problem is not with the rakyat, it is with the politicians. The politicians have to understand other people's culture -- not just their own.

"The people in the top leadership are a bit confused. I think they need to attend some courses," he said.

Sarjit said the proposed Race Relations Act needed to be inclusive of every segment of Malaysian society, including the Orang Asli and Penans.

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