New National Culture Policy must embrace pluralism, says PKR rep

Participants wave flags during 2018 Malaysia Day Celebrations at Padang Merdeka in Kota Kinabalu September 16, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Participants wave flags during 2018 Malaysia Day Celebrations at Padang Merdeka in Kota Kinabalu September 16, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 29 — Bukit Tengah assemblyman Gooi Hsiao Leung has suggested that the new National Culture Policy by the current administration should promote pluralism and cultural diversity.

The PKR leader added that the core principles in the new culture policy must be premised on building a “Malaysian” identity as opposed to race-based identity.

“Only when we genuinely embrace and promote cultural diversity in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society will we be able to move forward in creating a nation that is truly moderate, inclusive and united,” he said in a statement issued today.

He said it will make Malaysia a global model of inter-racial and inter-religious harmony as envisaged in the fifth Pillar of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto.

Gooi was commenting on the announcement by Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi that the final draft of the new National Culture Policy is expected to be ready in September.

Mohamaddin had said that the new policy will take into account recommendations made in the National Culture Policy 1971 study.

While he welcomed the move to draft a new Culture Policy, Gooi stressed that Putrajaya should focus on building a “Malaysian” identity.

“I am concerned by the minister’s remarks on taking into consideration the recommendations of the National Cultural Policy of 1971 in drafting the new policy,” he said.

He said the 1971 National Culture Policy, which was introduced after the May 13 riots, was based on the three principles.

The principles were that the national culture must be based on Malay culture, that suitable elements from other cultures may be accepted as part of the national culture, and Islam is an important component in making the national culture.

“I believe we have to move away from the outdated, narrow-minded and unworkable race based “assimilation” approach adopted almost 50 years ago, which has failed to foster genuine national unity in our multi-racial and multi religious country,” he said.

He said the previous government had failed to promote national unity and now is the time for the PH government to rectify Barisan Nasional’s failure.

He stressed that such a policy is important to nation building as it would chart the socio-economic and political development of the country for decades to come.

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