LESSON 9 INTEGRATION AND NATIONAL UNITY 1.0 Introduction In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Malaysia is a unique country. It is made up of multi-ethnic group who are living in harmony. Conflict among ethnic group is rare and even if conflict occurs, is not to the extent of destroying the country. In fact, it is the diversity that drives the development of the country and makes this country colourful. Malaysia has been recognized by the world as a model for other plural societies. The concept of ‘unity in diversity’ is always insisted by the leaders. The concept is now supported with the ‘1 Malaysia’ concept which is introduced by the current Prime Minister. The Malaysian government is always put efforts to ensure the unity among the people because the unity is very important for national unity. The national unity will ensure the country’s prosperity and the prosperity will create national integration. The unity and integration is the ultimate aim of development. Thus, in this lesson, you will come across the efforts of the Malaysian government towards creating national integration.
2.0 Learning Outcomes
By the end of the lesson, students should be able to:
Identify and discuss the efforts taken by the Malaysian government to ensure stability and unity among the races
Discover the challenges faced in creating national integration
Identify the approach to overcome the obstacles and challenges
List of Topics
The Concept of Unity and Integration
The Obstacles and Challenges Towards National Integration
The Approach and Policy to Overcome the Obstacles and Challenges
4.0 Terminologies 4.1 Prejudice
Attitude towards others based on evidences which is not concrete and might be wrong
A perception that one’s own culture is superior to that of others
5.1 The Concept of Unity and Integration
Can you define what unity and integration are? Is there any difference between the two? Unity and integration are interlinked in which both aims at bringing different races, closer together. In Malaysia context, unity can be defined as a process of forming a national identity among various groups that have differences in beliefs, cultures, customs, politics, social, economic functions and location into a political entity. In other words, national unity is a process to unite various groups that have different social and cultural background into one physical entity. For example, the effort of uniting Sabah, Sarawak and the Peninsular of Malaysia into a federation, is an effort at achieving national unity.
Meanwhile, integration has a wider meaning as compared to unity. It is a process of uniting groups with different backgrounds into one entity which is bound by common norms, values and interests. When the integration takes place, there will be a sense of belonging and ties of feelings between people themselves. From integration also, there will be a sharing of heart and minds that goes beyond cultural and ethnic differences. From the concept above, do you think that the national integration can be achieved? It is quite difficult and time-consuming but efforts must be always there to achieve the national integration. The national integration becomes the ultimate aim of the government to ensure stability and national development.
From your observation of being a citizen of Malaysia or of being in Malaysia, do you think that the people are united and integrated? Discuss.
5.2 The Obstacles and Challenges towards National Integration 5.2.1 Presentation
As being mentioned above, achieving national integration is not an easy task, but efforts must go on. This is due to the existence of economic, social, cultural, residential and world view among the people. Therefore, the Malaysian government since the independence of the country has put endless efforts towards achieving the national integration. In general, there are three main obstacles that the country has to face and resolve. They are prejudice, communalism and ethnocentrism.
Do you know what prejudice is? It refers to the attitude towards others based on evidences which is not concrete and might be wrong. In Malaysia context, this kind of pre-judgmental attitude still exists among races even though much positive information is provided.
Communalism refers to the attitude of favouring one’s own ethnic group. This kind of feeling is also prevalent in Malaysia. For example, the political parties that exist in Malaysia are still on ethnic base. UMNO represents the Malays, MCA and Gerakan represent the Chinese, MIC represents the Indians and many others. Each political party will fight for the interests of its ethnic. It happens in the country where there are some companies refuse to hire those who cannot speak certain language that belongs to one ethnic group.
It is a belief that one’s own culture is superior to that of others. Due to this feeling, any element from another culture that is different with one’s own culture, is considered wrong, bad or even dangerous. Just like the feeling that people of Israel think about themselves that is they are the chosen people of Allah SWT.
From the discussion above, can you give example of each kind of obstacles mentioned?
The government of Malaysia is very serious in achieving the national unity and integration. Many approaches have been put forward to overcome the obstacles and challenges. Among the approaches are:
Introducing national ideology that is Rukun Negara
New Economic Policy
National Culture Policy
National Education Policy
Promoting the use of national language
Political parties alliance
Creating the Ministry for National Unity and Community Development
National Ideology (Rukun Negara)
One of the political approach taken by the government is introducing national ideology. The ideology was created by National Consultative Council after the racial riot of 13 May 1969 at the time the country was under the rule of MAGERAN. On 31 August 1970, it was declared as a national ideology. Its aim is to instill a common spirit and identity among the people and to strengthen the unity among the people. The national ideology has five principles:
Belief in God
Loyalty to King and Country
Nobleness of the Constitution
Sovereignty of the Law
Courtesy and Decency
In general, the objectives of the national ideology are:
To achieve a greater unity among the people
To maintain democratic way of life
To create a just society
To ensure a liberal attitude towards the rich and variety of cultural traditions
To build a society that is progressive in science and technology
New Economic Policy (NEP)
NEP is an economic approach by the government. It was introduced in 1970 after the racial riot of 13 May 1969. For your information, the main reason that caused the riot is due to economic reason in which there was wide economic gap between the races especially between the Malays and Chinese. The NEP is considered as an economic development and national unity programme in a multiracial society. Thus, the NEP was introduced to demolish the economic gap between:
People in Peninsular and Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak)
If we look in depth, there was imbalance of wealth distribution between the races and people that have been mentioned above. Non-bumiputras, people in town areas, people in the west coast (focal of economic activities) and people in Peninsular gained more economic wealth of the country as compared to those Bumiputras, people in the rural areas, east coast states and people of Sabah and Sarawak in which the rate of poverty more prevalent and rampant among them. Besides that, before the riot of 1969 up to the NEP, races were identified through their economic function. For example, the Chinese were recognized as merchants and businessmen because they dominated the economic activities, the Malays as farmers because they lived in rural areas and the Indians as estate labours because they lived in estates. Based on this situation, the NEP was created as such with two-pronged aim:
To reduce and eradicate poverty by increasing income and job opportunities to all citizens without looking at their races
To restructure communities in order to reduce and erase the identification of races through economic function
National Culture Policy (NCP)
NCP is a social approach towards the national integration and was introduced in August 1971. Through NCP, people are encouraged to share values among them. It has been done since independence until today. The NCP is based on the culture o the indigenous people of the country. Any universal and positive elements from other cultures which are suitable and contribute towards unity may be adopted into the NCP. For example, the practice of mutual aid (gotong-royong) in Malay society has been adopted in the NCP as the practice is obviously positive. One interesting point is that Islam is made as the most important element in the NCP. Malay language is made as the official language and medium of communication in the NCP. Through the NCP, it is hoped that it will create a national identity for the multiracial society of Malaysia
National Education Policy
Since independence, many educational reports have been implemented in order to unite and integrate the people. During the British colonial, they did not have a clear education policy. They allowed education to develop into four virtually segregated streams which were based on ethnicity – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Each of the streams had its own objectives, syllabus (normally taken from their country of origin), medium of instruction and teachers’ qualification and training standard. The Chinese for example, used Chinese language as the medium of instruction and children were exposed to the history of China. Malayan history was totally excluded from the syllabus likewise the Tamil school. This happened because of the divide and rule policy of the British who did not want to see the people united. In their eyes, when people united, all races would against them.
After the defeat of Japanese in the World War II, the British came back to rule the country. The local leaders put onto them pressure to streamline the education system in order to promote racial unity. Below is the chronology of the development of national education system through educational reports. The names of those reports were taken from the name of Minister of Education at that time. For the purpose of discussion, this topic just brings to you the content of the reports that relate to national unity only.
Razak Report 1956
The report was made by a committee formed by the British government. The committee was headed by Dato’ Abdul Razak Hussein, Minister of Education at that time. The committee was responsible to prepare a proposal for national education system. Below are the proposals:
There should be one education system only
Malay language is made the national language and the medium of instruction in education
Malay and English language to be made compulsory for all primary school and secondary schools
For national-type schools that is English, Chinese and Tamil languages to be the medium of instruction
To establish one type of school opened to all races
Rahman Talib Report 1961
To strengthen the implementation of the Razak Report, some changes and amendments were made to it by the Rahman Report. Among the contents that relate to national unity are:
There should be two types of school – national schools and national type school
Malay language to replace English as the medium of instruction in all primary schools
Finally, in 1970, the Malay language became the medium of instruction in the Peninsular, replacing English language. Then, it was extended to Sabah and Sarawak in 1976. Beginning from that until today, there is a single national education system in this country.
Hussein Onn Report 1971
The main aim of the report was to restudy the National Education Policy and to provide basic education to all children in the schooling ages that can be accommodated in Malay, English, Chinese and Tamil stream schools. Even though, Malay language had replaced English as the medium of instruction, the English language continues as the second language and was still taught in all schools due to its importance for higher education, trade and international affairs.
Mahathir Report 1985
During the time of the former 4th Prime Minister, Dr. Mahatihir Mohamad became the Deputy Prime Minister, he chaired a Cabinet Committee to re-examine the National Education Policy. The Mahathir Report then was established. The goal is to ensure the existing education system satisfied the country’s goal of producing a united, disciplined and trained society.
Promoting the use of national language
As being discussed in the Main Provisions of the Constitution, Malay language is made as the national language of the country. It is used to promote unity among the people. Few proverbs have been created to promote unity through the national language such as ‘Language is the Soul of the Nation’ (Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa) and ‘Language Unite the nation’ (Bahasa Menyatukan Bangsa).
Establish Ministry, Department and Agency of National Unity
In 1990, Ministry of National Unity and Social Development was established. One of the objectives of its establishment is to encourage unity of a multiracial society and to promote national integration. Under the Ministry, several departments were formed such as the Social Welfare Department, Department of Social Unity, Department for Orang Asli Affairs, Department of Women’s Affairs and National Welfare Foundation. For the national integration, the Department of Social Unity played important roles in ensuring the success of the ministry effort towards integration. Thus, several objectives that relate to national integration of the department were set up. Among others, the objectives are:
To increase community awareness on national unity and integration through activities and programmes that encourage and strengthen those values.
To organize and coordinate racial interaction programmes through Rukun Tetangga, a scheme which is based on the spirit of neighbourliness.
Educate children of various races in forming a personality and character that can serve the efforts for national unity and integration
For instance, in 1969, National Unity Department in the Ministry of national Unity and Social Development was established. Agencies and organizations were also set up such as KEMAS, RELA and Rukun Tetangga. Currently, through RELA, the government encourages all races to be member of RELA.
Political parties alliance
The seriousness of the government to ensure the unity can be seen from the early stage of the ‘birth’ of Malaysia (i.e in the struggle of the past leaders to get independence of Malaysia). The leaders from the major three races i.e Malays, Chinese and Indians had taken initiative to form alliance among the political parties that represent those three races. As a result, National Front (Barisan National) that is an alliance between UMNO, MIC and MCA was established in 1951. The alliance remains until today. Through the alliance, all opposing views among the races are coordinated and resolved by the party representatives. The alliance had proven in certain extent succeeded in managing communal conflict.
In your opinion, should the government encourage the Malays to send their children to study in Chinese or Indian national-type schools as an effort towards achieving national unity? Give your argument.
How far do you believe that the concept of ‘1 Malaysia’ is able to unite and integrate the people?
6.0 Lesson Summary The importance of creating and maintaining unity and integration cannot be compromised. Malaysia as a country with multiracial population cannot stop from doing efforts to unite the people and integrate them. National unity and integration is vital for Malaysian if they want to live in peace and harmony. The government of Malaysia since independence and even before independence has shown its seriousness in achieving the national unity in integration. Many efforts and approaches, from the aspect of politic, economy, social, education and culture have been taken and will be continuously putting forward by the government to eliminate the prejudice, communalism and ethnocentrism. To ensure that the national integration is achieved, the citizens must play their roles also by supporting the efforts of the government. From this lesson, it is clear that to create national integration is the duty and responsibility of everyone. Everyone has to play his role earnestly and sincerely. All races must be ready to give and take (compromise) for the peace and harmony or otherwise, they will be living in chaos and instability that will make everyone’s life difficult, uneasy and even miserable.
Which of the following is wrong about the concept of unity and integration?
Both are not interlinked
Both are interlinked
Integration is wider in its meaning compared to unity
Integration is more sharing a common values and norms
Looking at the Malaysian context, which of the following does not describe the characteristics of its plural society?
No communication among communities
Consists of a society of many communities
The characteristics of plural society more obvious during the British rule
The communities are separated by economic, cultural, residential and political differences
National integration is an important process in a country like Malaysia which has many racial groups. National integration refers to a process of ________________________.
preserving harmony in the society
integrating various races in Malaysia
giving freedom to various racial groups to religion and customs