One of the first suggestions that a member appointed to the cabinet’s National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) will propose for discussion will be for judiciary appointments to be carried out in a transparent manner and for members of the judiciary to be made up of all races.
Jagir Singh who is also the president of the country’s leading non-Muslim inter-faith council, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST), said this was to give the impression of impartiality on the part of the judiciary.
He added that he will also call for public institutions such as the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission and Election Commission to operate independently.
Jagir is also hopeful that the NUCC will be a genuine effort to bring about national reconciliation.
“Those who are appointed come from a broad spectrum, including academicians, corporate figures, legal experts, politicians, and many of them are known to be independent in their views,” he said.
Jagir, while is also a lawyer, pointed out that the NUCC was different and cannot be compared to the MCCBCHST, as the latter was an NGO while the former was a Cabinet appointed committee.
He said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had outlined seven areas for the council to look into, including ensuring that all programmes under the 1Malaysia initiative benefit all races, that the New Economic Model is used to benefit those who are weak, and that the people are sensitive to each other’s race and religious sensitivities.
When asked why the NUCC meetings had to be held behind closed doors, Jagir, who is one of the 27 members appointed to the council, explained that this was so that the council could freely discuss issues, even those that were deemed sensitive.
He added that after the council meets, they will decide on which issues can go public.
Jagir felt that the NUCC as a cabinet committee was allowed better access to the powers-that-be, when proposals needed to be implemented.
“I am happy to be part of this because it appears to be a genuine effort to bring peace and harmony among the different races and religions in the country,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Najib announced the setting up of the NUCC on Nov 30, in the aftermath of the 13th general election, whereby national unity among Malaysians was put to the test several times when issues arose and affected the sensitivities of various communities.
DAP, however, questioned Najib whether he will accept the NUCC’s findings and recommendations even if it clashes with Putrajaya’s decisions and policies.
The party’s national vice-chairman M. Kula Segaran said many Malaysians would regard Najib’s speech as empty talk as long as Putrajaya refused to make or implement bold changes.
He questioned whether the government was prepared to accept sound policy recommendations from the NUCC.
“If the NUCC comes up with recommendations which can make a real difference to fostering national unity even if it comes into direct conflict with Putrajaya’s decisions and policies, will Najib declare that the government is prepared to accept them?” asked the Ipoh Barat MP.
He then cited a statement from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently which called for Putrajaya to allow the Catholic weekly Herald to use the word Allah to refer to God in the paper’s Bahasa Malaysia section.
“If the NUCC agrees with the views and opinions of the UN experts and make the following recommendations to Putrajaya, will Najib accept the proposals and implement them?” he asked.