MALAY rulers are now filling the void left by government leaders on clear leadership in issues of unity and harmony, said former members of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC).
And this is why, they said, Malaysians need to heed the call of the monarchs to promote moderation.
The ex-unity panel members said the statement yesterday from the Malay Rulers, which endorsed Johor Sultan and Perlis Raja Muda’s decision to forbid Muslim-only launderettes in their respective states, highlighted the importance of practising the principles of the Federal Constitution and Rukunegara.
Former NUCC member Marina Mahathir said it was good that the rulers have issued this statement and made a clear stand on the Constitution, Rukunegara and inclusivity.
“They are filling in for the government leaders who are silent on these issues. As the saying goes, if you say nothing, you are condoning,” Marina Mahathir told The Malaysian Insight.
The Malay rulers yesterday said they took issues of unity and harmony among citizens very seriously and reminded Malaysians to adhere to the core principles in the Federal Constitution and the Rukunegara.
The rulers also expressed their concerns that recent actions in the name of Islam had threatened the harmony and unity of Malaysia’s multicultural people.
Another former unity panel member Lee Lam Thye said the statement on divisive actions was a timely reminder to the people that they should not be involved in any activity that could jeopardise interracial harmony.
“All Malaysians have an important duty to help maintain harmony in a multiracial country like ours. Malaysians should heed the call by the rulers and do their part to advocate and promote moderation as a way of life.
“All Malaysians must be resolute and in standing firm for moderation and putting a stop to all forms of extremism,” said Lee, who was also the trustee of the 1Malaysia Foundation.
1Malaysia Foundation is group established in 2009 to support and spearhead activities that promote national unity.
Another former NUCC member, Saifuddin Abdullah, said Malaysians should welcome the Malay rulers views as “Their views hold certain standing in the eye of the public – both Muslims and non-Muslims.”
“As Malaysians, we should be thankful. This is especially so in times like this, when Malaysians miss the presence of leadership,” he said.
Mujahid Yusof Rawa meanwhile said the Malay rulers’ concerns were valid, as small incidents like the launderette issue in Johor and Perlis could spark even more divisive incidents.
“That’s why as an MP I have put forward three private members’ bills, as these three bills – the Equality Bill, National Harmony Commission Bill and Racial and Religious Hate Crime Bill – are aimed at maintaining unity and national harmony in the country.
“This is to further strengthen the concerns of Malay rulers, so that from the legal perspective, there are provisions that monitor, control and ensure no such incidents will happen again which can lead to disunity and segregation,” Mujahid said.
The NUCC was launched by Prime Minister Najib Razak to address issues, such as racial and religious polarisation, disunity and discrimination, in an effort to achieve national unity.
NUCC also drafted the Racial and Religious Hate Crimes Bill to criminalise hate speech, and the National Harmony and Reconciliation Commission Bill in 2014. The council was dissolved in mid-2016.