Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah: We Should Have An Elected Prime Minister

This was suggested by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in his keynote address to Harmony Malaysia's National Conference on 'Our Malaysian Journey - Still in the Making.'

The event, held at the International Institute of Advance Islamic Studies, saw the presences of academicians and members of the legal profession amongst others.

Also present at the event is centenarian, Samuel Kam Sheung Woo, former CEO of Lam Soon.

In his welcome address, Harmony Malaysia’s Chairman, Adam Ibrahim explained that he is continuing the work of his late wife, Datuk Ilani Ishak who started her work to bring harmony in Malaysia before her demise 4 years ago. Harmony Malaysia is a non-profit organisation registered in October 2014.

Centenarian, Samuel Kam (left) at the day long program
He said that over the years the relationship amongst our people have regressed rather than progress. He explains that our leaders are dividing us for their own reason. He is against the notion that ‘I am a Malay first then a Malaysian’ or even to the slogan ‘I am a Malaysian first then a Malay’.

Instead his stand is that ‘We are human beings first and human beings second.’ He drew comparisons with other countries where efforts were made to build race relations amongst its people. He quotes the example of Singapore, where the government had set up harmony centres in almost all districts in the island city to enable people of different faiths and culture to meet, interact and understand each other.

He stressed that much of the race and religious disputes arise because of the lack of knowledge and understanding of each race and religion. He explains that Harmony Malaysia is focused on bringing harmony to Malaysia. He outlined Harmony Malaysia's 3 prong approach to build harmony amongst all Malaysians:

(1) by creating fun filled and wholesome activities,
(2) to conduct joint humanitarian activities and
(3) to provide informative activities.

He ended his text with a quote from Tariq Ramadhan who once said, ‘He who cannot love, cannot understand’.

Tengku Razaleigh, described as one of the oldest Member of the Malaysian Parliament and a statesman, began his text by calling for the voices for moderation and reason to be aired.

He explained that people just want to be happy to be successful and meaningful. It is subjective, happiness could be related to just living a simple life, while studies suggest that success is equated to economic success.

He gave 3 indicators for Malaysia to move forward:

1. Economy – Income,
2. Race relation and religion integration of the Malaysian people, and
3. Politics.

He was of the view that even though there are many factors, these 3 factors will be effective tool for a harmonious Malaysia.

He claims that although there are some relief that since 1969 there has been no racial conflict (in the physical sense) but stressed that we should not be complacent and must always maintain order and understanding amongst the people. Sadly he claims that May 13, occurs every now and then. It may not appear on the physical level but perhaps on a psychological level.

Recent events makes it difficult to rectify. He said that although the Federal Constitution remains relevant and respected but in these last years narrow minded people are allowed to gain prominence for their extreme views without sanction from the authorities, even though he felt that action should be taken against them. He also explained that there is growing lack of trust amongst the people which is now being exploited by individuals and groups.

He explained that on the economy/income, 2 factors to be considered:
1. Efforts should be focused on raising the real income of the people to allow people to lead a decent life,
2. Transparency - strong political will to right the wrongs.

‘In the corruption index, we are seeping down the ranks’, he said.

On politics, he said that while the old system may have worked well in the past but today there is a need for change in the system of government. ‘Change not for the sake of change but change for the better. Perhaps we should have an elected prime minister.’ he explained.

He said that our value systems are changing. ‘We have become very lazy. We import things which we can grow. We seem to take it easy - it's because they say we have oil. But we do not have much oil. Money from oil has been squandered and now we impose GST - Gasak Sehingga Tumbang!!’, he exclaimed.

Tengku Razaleigh said that there was a perception that there is no justice. Decisions tend to favour the rich rather than the man on the street. He claims, the executive is too strong and too dominant over the other 2 branches (parliament and judiciary).

He said that race based political party need to be reviewed. It inhibits unity and harmony. The way forward to achieve harmonious Malaysia is to respect each other’s culture, race and religion.

He stressed that education is key to such success. Teachers training should emphasize on respect of each culture, race and religion. He encourages greater integration amongst student of all races and reduce race based organization in schools and university and encourage more unity clubs camps and its likes instead.

He claims that there is insufficient thought and open discussion on problems with our education system. He explained that there are 16 public universities and 43 private universities in Malaysia. Approximately 225,000 graduated with 31% being unemployed and most of whom are Malays from public universities. Reality of economic growth has not benefited the students from public university nor has it brought about racial and religious unity. Malay graduates are not adequately prepared to meet the world. The disparity between public and private universities will create a dangerous inequality. Inequality of quality of education has to be addressed.

He said that the quality of students we produce lie with the political leadership. He stressed that it is important that good policies come from right leadership. Right leadership is not based on money and wealth.

He quotes from Tunku Abdul Rahman who said, ‘We must be sincere with one another. We cannot hurt one another. We must always be there to help one another. Only then we can be one people and one country. Only then. Malaysia will be respected by the rest of the world.’

Tengku Razaleigh concluded his address by calling on all to do something and to do it now to bring about harmony in Malaysia. He also called on our religious leaders to come up and ‘tell us where we have gone wrong. Our religious gurus must work harder and speak of understanding of other religion’, he said.

‘We need race and religion relation builders’, he said.

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