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Embrace our differences – Gobind Singh Deo

If left unchecked, the current divide between races will be an impediment to achieving Bangsa Malaysia, says MP for Puchong, Gobind Singh Deo.

Calling it a “major problem and public issue in the country”, Gobind chided the BN government for its lack of initiative and commitment to eradicate escalating tensions.

As a result, Gobind pointed out that certain NGOs (alluding to Perkasa) are raising issues calculated to cause unease. Mainstream newspapers are also making untrue allegations targeting specific groups.

The MP for Puchong added that if allowed to carry on, these actions will not only undermine efforts to foster racial integration, but will also be very difficult to get rid of.

“People have reached a level where it’s difficult for them to accept variety (in terms of race and religious) in how we live. The level of tolerance is at an all time low,” Gobind pointed out.

The practicing lawyer urged Malaysians to ‘look at the bigger picture, to see where we have stopped short’. He expressed the need for a greater level of acceptance among all parties.

“In a multiracial society, differences are bound to arise, but if we can deal with it in a spirit of understanding… of give and take, then these differences will not become problems,” he told The Rocket. Instead, he said, these differences can form a platform to reach out to each other.

Describing the concept of Bangsa Malaysia as “difficult, but not impossible”, Gobind advocates building on areas of common agreement to draw on the nation’s shared identity.

Forging a common identity

“Ultimately it comes down to the common identity we share as one nation. It starts from knowing that we are all Malaysians – people of different backgrounds,” said the father-of-three.

Acknowledging that struggling race relations is not restricted to countries engaged in the early stages of nation building, Gobind says it has become a global problem. However he hopes that “we will live in a united world one day.”

There is room for minorities in a multiracial society, Gobind asserts. “Equality is guaranteed under the constitution. So I don’t see why the majority cannot uphold the rights of the minority.”

Drawing a parallel with a recent article written about Singaporean immigrants who are said to be gradually taking over control, Gobind says this has pushed native Singaporeans to start thinking about the ‘Singaporean problem’. He forsees that Malaysians, too will have to face this process.

“We need to seek and establish our Malaysian identity. If we cant even get our act together among races, how can this country compete with the international world?” says Gobind, dubbed ‘the Little Lion of Puchong’.

He believes that in a plural society every race or religion has to make concessions in order to look after the bigger picture. Calling sacrifices and tolerance “two sides of the coin”, Gobind says Malaysians should embrace the different ideologies of other people.

“You don’t always have to give up to embrace. I think we should just find ways to bridge the gap (between each other),” he added.

Referring to the perceived marginalization of Indians, Gobind blamed BN’s raced-based politics for making Indians feel sidelined.

He blasted the top leadership for “continuing to profess that different races need their own leaders, have (their) own issues and stay within their own circles.”

According to Gobind, 50 years after independence, the once-spontaneous unity and patriotism among races has all but evaporated. In fact, despite the government’s claim of achieving much, we have actually moved backwards.

He is confident that the DAP can represent all races, due to its consistent aim of achieving a Malaysian Malaysia. “You cannot have raced-based politics if you want to achieve a common identity,” he stressed. For this reason, the party has always fought to end discrimination for all Malaysians. -The Rocket