Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Forms with no ‘race’ column


P Ramani

December 3, 2013
Saifuddin Abdullah says he will propose the change at NUCC's first meeting.
PETALING JAYA: Official forms will no longer ask for your race if the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) accepts a proposal from one of its members and the government agrees with it.
Former deputy minister Saifuddin Abdullah told FMT in a recent interview that he would make the proposal at the first meeting of the council in “about two weeks’ time”.
He admitted that NUCC’s success depends on a lot of “ifs”, but added that the administration of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak appeared to be more determined than its predecessors to pursue the national unity agenda.
He said the result of the 13th general election, which saw Barisan Nasional losing a lot of ground, must have brought home to the government how urgent it was to look seriously into the question of national unity.
He noted that Najib, in his victory speech, spoke about a “Chinese Tsunami” sweeping BN off many of its strongholds and the need for national reconciliation.
Saifuddin himself lost his Temerloh seat to PAS in the May 5 election. He was deputy minister of higher education in the previous administration.
He said he would also propose that government policies, particularly those that address social and economic marginalisation, be based on the beneficiaries’ needs rather than their racial background.
He acknowledged that it would take an extraordinary amount of political will for the government to discard some race-based policies but expressed confidence that the NUCC members could provide it with useful input.
He said one of the biggest difficulties the government would face in advocating needs-based policies would be to ensure that politicians do not issue contradictory statements, but he added that he would advance proposals to address this problem as well.
He also spoke about sports as an ideal arena for the promotion of national unity, saying he would make a proposal to that effect in the coming NUCC meeting.
Noting that sepak takraw is dominated by Malays and basketball by Chinese, he asked: “Why not open them to other races? I certainly believe there are talented non-Malays who can excel in sepak takraw, for instance.”
Saifuddin is one of the 30 members of NUCC, which is headed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Joseph Kurup. They are appointed for a two-year term and are expected to present their findings and recommendations to the government within that period.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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