KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who took office during one of the country’s most fractious and volatile periods, launched a 10-year blueprint to unite the nation this morning.
The National Unity Blueprint 2021-2030 details the government’s action plan to achieve goals set out in the National Unity Policy, which among others, aims to foster national integration based on the key pillars of the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara.
Muhyiddin said the NUP and the accompanying blueprint were the product of years of efforts put into a plan to make the country more inclusive, tolerant and also “patriotic”.
He stressed that more work had to be done to achieve true integration, citing “imbalances” in how the different races viewed each other even as communal relations appeared harmonious, which to Muhyiddin had been embodied in the way society had responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have to nurture further this empathy in our attempt to understand each other and have a balanced and holistic perspective,” the prime minister said at the launch of the plan which was streamed “live” on the National Unity Ministry’s Facebook page.
“Like other multiracial nations, we have the tendency to view an issue regarding race from a racial or communal angle. We have to make this perspective better so that it becomes more balanced and holistic,” the Pagoh MP added.
The pursuit of national integration has been the mainstay of all administrations that preceded the Muhyiddin government since the May 13 race riots in 1969, although the present day NUP is likely the first to have made an official policy with clear goals.
Muhyiddin said there would be greater emphasis on inclusiveness in governance, which will be based on an “integration model” that celebrates “unity in diversity.”
To achieve this, the NUP has set out three key objectives.
The first is national integration built on values enshrined in the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara. Next is forming a “national identity” shaped by “patriotism, compassion, tolerance, respect and collective responsibility.” Third is birthing a society “that values and practices unity.”
Muhyiddin said that the government alone cannot achieve these objectives.
The success of the NUP, he asserted, will hinge on the willing participation of all of society, including the private sector and non-governmental organisations.
“I’d like to stress that this policy is our policy. We are all agents of unity. It is us who can push this aspiration forward,” he said.
The prime minister has faced persistent political challenges from both within his own coalition and the Opposition since taking office in March last year.
In January, Muhyiddin used his discretionary power to advise the Agong to assent to Emergency rule. Critics of the prime minister claimed the move was intended to thwart a move to oust him through a vote in Parliament.
He deflected the allegation and responded by painting his foes as power-crazy politicians who sought to exploit the Covid-19 crisis to seize control.
Today, Muhyiddin warned against any attempt to “disrupt unity”, citing politicians inclined to use nativist sentiments for political support.
“We must be careful of the racial manipulation by politicians,” he said.
“They are the biggest challenge to any multiracial nation. We must avoid politicians who try to raise their value by stoking racial emotions.”