Creating And Sustaining Unity Through Unity Help-Desk – Penang Hindu Association

The unity among all the races in Malaysia created the strength and energy that gave us our independence more than 60 years ago and it was with this unity that we developed henceforth. Nevertheless, history has taught us that the disintegration of the unity would create unrest and chaos in a multicultural and multiracial country like ours. As such, it is indeed seen as relevant for our Prime Minister to push forward the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ or ‘Malaysian Family’ slogan to bring together all Malaysians, irrespective of their ethnicity, to work together towards nation building. However, the concern here is that would this slogan be just another one of the many that was loudly introduced and slowly but surely died a silent death?

After over 6 decades of independence, we cannot ignore that fact that one of our stumbling blocks seems to be sustaining the many visions, missions and programmes introduced in the name of unity and nation building. Penang Hindu Association (PHA) welcomes the introduction of the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ concept, but worry about its sustainability with the passing of time. Taking this concern into consideration, PHA is proposing the setting up of a Unity Helpdesk at all the elected YB’s community centers to be manned by officers of different races who are conversant in their own mother tongue in order to be of assistance to people who come to seek help from their elected representatives but are illiterate and can only converse in their own mother tongue. These Unity Helpdesk officers could also help to organise and monitor unity related programmes introduced by the government and to ensure that the programmes reaches the people on a fair basis without any racial discrimination.

This proposal is based on PHA’s observation that at some of the YB’s offices, there are no multiracial staff to help people who cannot read, write and communicate in Bahasa Malaysia. Those seeking help would end up not getting their issues across clearly and would leave the center disgruntled. Due to this communication breakdown, many miss out the opportunity to gain from the government’s programmes to help the needy.

This proposal should also be considered by the multiracial political parties which should begin setting up the Unity Helpdesks at their respective YB offices, manned by staff of all races to ensure that the government initiated help reaches their electorate without any fear or favour.

PHA is hoping that this proposal would be given serious thoughts as several complaints have been received about people being turned away at the Elected representative offices based on the following reasons:-

1. Quota for a particular race have already been met for School Uniform Aid, Laptop Aid, Medical-based aid like wheelchairs, medical beds, First-aid kits, medicines as well as milk powder aid. Some of the people seeking help were told to go to other YB offices where they can seek assistance from the officers of their own race.

2. Appeal for PPR flats from the Housing Department seemingly takes a waiting period of between 5 to 10 years. The YB’s responsibility seem to stop short of just providing a letter of support for the appeal without any follow-up to checks on the status or delays from the Housing Department. The Unity Helpdesk would thus provide an avenue for the electorates to bring up their issues to seek further assistance from their elected representatives.

We should accept the fact that unity is important for the advancement of our nation. However, there is still much to be considered. Even today, when you look at advertisements for houses or rooms for rent, elements of race biasedness is subtly or openly obvious. And the recent issue of race based discrimination on a job applicant at a retail outlet may just be the tip of the iceberg. These real examples show that race discrimination is still very much present in our country despite the many slogans and unity based videos shown only during festive seasons. People are no more gullible to the YB walkabouts and interactions with the various races whenever an election or a by-election is near. To many, these are merely gimmicks and all the pomp and fanfare soon fades into a divided reality as time passes.

To sum up, our unity in diversity is a precious gem which our nation could be proud of to showcase to the world. PHA reiterates that one way to achieve this by setting up the proposed Unity Helpdesk at all YB offices to assist electorates of different ethnic backgrounds seeking help. The Unity Helpdesk team could also organise unity based programmes such as forums and talks at the YB’s offices, schools, offices, hospitals and at places of worship in and around the YB’s constituencies on a regular basis and monitor the programmes throughout the year with the hope that people would start talking more about unity rather than coming out with racist statements. To this end, the elected representatives must be serious with the Unity Helpdesk proposal and must be willing to move the nation as much away as possible from race and religious based discrimination. As an old malay adage says, United we stand, divided we fall. God bless our nation.

Source: WHN