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PM to push ahead with 1Malaysia despite resistance: Hishammuddin

PETALING JAYA, Friday 20 August 2010: Home minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein pointed out that no one would be like Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who insisted to push ahead with his "1Malaysia" concept knowing very well that he would be facing some resistance.

Hishammuddin said not all politicians supported the 1Malaysia concept, especially those who loved to take short cuts and were fishing for popularity.

When asked whether all Cabinet ministers supported the 1Malaysia concept, the home minister said, "Resistance is always there, including that from some civil servants."

During the almost one-hour exclusive interview with Sin Chew Daily recently, Hishammuddin said what had to be encountered in the implementation of 1Malaysia was structural problems, especially state level civil servants from where much of the resistance had come.

"Probably this group of people are currently at a comfort zone. They do not have sufficient faith in believing and accepting this concept.'

He said PM Najib had only been in office for 15 months, without the luxury of time like former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir who had served for 22 years. As such the prime minister was worried that the 1Malaysia concept could be misinterpreted by some people causing the public to get confused and unable to fully comprehend its original meanings.

Leaders should take the lead

Hishammuddin admitted that the majority of Malaysians living in urban and rural areas had very different levels of acceptance to novel ideas as well as their responses to openness.

As such, he said leaders of various communities should take the lead to respond positively to the 1Malaysia call.

Hishammuddin felt that while Malaysia's multicultural society looked peaceful on the surface, inner problems were not easy to tackle. As a result, he said the public should decide the future direction of the country having been independent for 54 years.

"We have been working very hard to bring about a unified multicultural society since Merdeka, but given the impact of globalisation, it has now come to a turning point where Malaysia needs to develop along the lines of the 1Malaysia concept."

He stressed that this was the first time he had gone so deeply into 1Malaysia in his speech, adding that the prime minister had come up with this concept only after much consideration.

"In the past we used to live our lives based on the social contract and accept things surrounding the social contract, but PM Najib emphasises acceptance over tolerance because it will no longer be enough just for Malaysians living in a multicultural society to be tolerant. What is more important is how we are going to accept other people.

"No one would go ahead with his plan like Najib, knowing very well that his concept may not be popular."

BN may amend constitution to recruit direct members

Hishammuddin said if Umno, MCA, MIC or Gerakan Rakyat failed to recruit young members, the only thing BN could do was to get them to become direct members of BN.

He said many young people refused to a join a political party, but did not reject the notion of becoming direct members of BN. As such, he said making amendments to the BN constitution to allow them to become direct members of BN was the only way to lure new blood to the ruling coalition.

He said if BN refused to change, then the candidates would change BN.

Hishammuddin, who is also the BN Constitution Amendment Committee chairman, said there were many reasons why young people supported BN but were unwilling to join BN, adding that it was likely for some members of component parties to quit their parties and become direct members of BN if the constitutional amendment were to be passed.

He also said whether the constitutional amendment could be implemented would very much depend on the courage and political will of the component parties.

"We have already submitted the first constitutional amendment draft to the various component parties for consideration whether they want short cuts, adventures, or make a real tough decision."

"Politicians will tend to place their popularity in the first place, and making changes might cause them to lose their seats or become unpopular.

"But if you don't change, you will lose your party, and direct membership is an alternative solution we offer."

He said even before the amendment of BN constitution, PM Najib had already passed the motion to abolish quotas in divisional elections, expand the number of central delegates and increase Wanita representation, during last year's Umno general assembly, so that Umno could become more tolerant and approachable to younger party members.

He said BN component parties should realise that the most pressing need at this moment was to transform so as not to get marginalised by the voters given the continuous demonisation by the opposition.

"The BN assembly end of this year will decide whether or not to adopt the constitutional amendment."

Hishammuddin said the media must give BN a chance to try this out, or the idea would very likely be nibbed in the bud.

He said BN must seek an alternative channel to win the hearts of those no longer supporting Umno, MCA or Gerakan, to continue to stay with BN.

Putting national interests first

Hishammuddin urged politicians to place national interests above self and have the courage and political will to do the right things.

He said politicians liked to play short-term political games, but there are still some far-sighted politicians who would pay a heavy price for the nation.

"Although Datuk Onn Jaafar was forced to leave Umno because the Malays were not yet prepared for more openness he advocated, his concept was a right one."

He said the 1Malaysia concept mooted by Najib was a people-centric idea and not merely a political slogan. He said it not only satisfied the current needs of the people, but emphasised that our multicultural society should be elevated from the past tolerance to acceptance.

"Some people do not accept the concept of 1Malaysia, but that is only the view of minority of people and should not reflect the overall picture. There might be some Chinese or Malays making a lot of noise out there, and their acts are clearly contrary to the 1Malaysia concept showing that they have no confidence to face the bigger vision ahead."

He said the pleas made by the Chinese associations in the past and Perkasa now showed that there were some disgruntled groups of people in our midst, adding that they were not exclusively Malays and their views did not represent those of the majority of rakyat.

He said Pakatan Rakyat would mobilise all their resources just to attack the 1Malaysia concept, and the more supportive the public of 1Malaysia, the more uneasy they would feel.

Hishammuddin said BN would no longer dance to the tune of Pakatan, but would earnestly urged the public to patiently try to understand the 1Malaysia concept.

"We will keep approaching different types of people so that they will understand the 1Malaysia concept, as not everyone would refuse to listen to us."

National unity still an uphill challenge

Hishammuddin pointed out that he did not believe that existing policies or politicians were the factors affecting national unity. However, he admitted that at this moment national unity had yet to come to a stage where all Malaysians would feel confident and comfortable.

He said having been independent for 54 years now, national unity remained a major challenge in national development, and he said he had so far been unable to find a satisfactory answer to this issue.

"Leaving aside whether the current problems in national unity have been a result of education or income disparity or racial politics, I feel that this question could not be answered with a single answer, for there are many factors that could have contributed this."

He said this issue would never be solved overnight, and the media had to take the lead in guiding the public.

Reducing street crimes a priority

Touching on the issue of social security, the home minister said making the public feel safe and secure had been the ultimate goal of the ministry. As such, reducing the incidence of street crimes has become one of the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs), but that does not mean the police would overlook other forms of crimes.

Hishammuddin said compared to other criminal cases, snatch thefts were more prevalent than rapes and murders and as such, the public were more afraid of street crimes.

"We have put in place 55 measures aimed at improving social security, and in response to the public's fears, we have paid particular attention to street crimes such as snatch thefts and robberies, although other cases such as rapes and murders were also accorded same priority as usual."

Hishammuddin said with the effort of the home ministry, the incidence of street crimes plummeted 36.6% during the first half of this year while overall criminal cases dropped by 14.2%.

He emphasised that battling crime was not an overnight achievement but the result of continuous efforts the home ministry had put in.

He said the issue of security should not be the sole responsibility of the country's police force, but a common obligation of all relevant government departments.

"Such cross-department cooperation is very important. It will be useless if the criminal apprehended by the police is not charged in the court as soon as possible. And even if he is charged, if the court fails to arrange for the hearings as soon as possible, it will also be useless.

"Similarly, if the criminal is eventually put in the jail but has not been reformed when he gets out of the prison, it will be useless too."

"As such we need the cooperation from the Attorney General's Chambers and the court. Security is not a matter of superficial numbers. Many people just fail to see the tonnes of hard work we have put in."

Alternative crime-busting solutions

Hishammuddin said due to understaffing and long training duration required of the country's police force, the authorities had adopted other alternative solutions to address the social security problems, such as the recruitment of RELA members, the Rakan Cop, mobile police kiosks and relegating traffic policemen to patrol the streets to help battle crime.

"We need a lot of policemen today to address the issue of security, but we simply do not have sufficient time to provide the training.

"We now have 6,751 office cops, 3,425 RELA members and 1,041 civil defence members patrolling the streets."

He pointed out that other initiatives to help battle crime include Rukun Tetangga voluntary patrol squads, high profile policing and Stop and Talk, police station ranking, CCTVs, etc.

Migrant labour issue complicated and tough

Hishammuddin said the issue of illegal foreign workers had been an intricate and tough one. If not handled properly, it could develop into cross-border human trafficking, drug trafficking, terrorism and other more serious criminal issues.

"It's like tug-of-war. On the one hand businesses want to bring in more foreign workers, but on the other hand we don't want so many of them on security concerns. Companies want cheap labour, but if they are paid too low, people would worry that they are actually terrorists, or might be involved in human or drug trafficking."

He said many criminal cases have gone beyond national borders nowadays in a globalised, borderless world, and everything must be handled really carefully.

"For example, we observed Mat Selamat (the Singapore Jemaah Islamiah chief) for nine months before we brought him to justice.

"If we arrested him immediately, we wouldn't be able to track down his contacts."

"The police have planned ripely before making any move. If we don't do things properly, the aftermath could be undesirable.

"After arresting Mat Selamat, we found out how terrible the plans he had had against the Chinese in Singapore. Some people say they don't want ISA, but how are we going to get these criminals if not for ISA?"

30,000 citizenship applications solved in two months

Since he took over the home ministry over a year ago, citizenship issue has been high on Hishammuddin's agenda. Within two months in office he has handled the cumulative 32,927 citizenship applications filed between 1997 and 2006.

"These applications have been lying idle for too long. After taking over the home ministry, I began to look into these documents one by one, and approved those which were eligible."

Having met the people facing problems in citizenship, permanent residence and birth certificate applications, he knew where the causes were, and this involved not only the Chinese and Indians but the Malays too.

"Those marrying foreigners need to apply for citizenships for their spouses. There are also people facing the problems of deferred application for birth certificates resulting in their children having problems getting admitted into schools. Under my supervision all these cases have been resolved.

"Citizenships and birth certs are not racial issues. Under the 1Malaysia spirit, we treat each applicant equally regardless of race and religion. So long as they meet the requirements and conditions, they will get their citizenships."

According to Hishammuddin, the government received 7,888 citizenship applications in 2008 and 74% of the cases have been resolved now. 15% of the 15,230 applications received last year have been verified so far and the remaining will be completed before the end of the year.

"We will start handling this year's applications next year. So far we have received 6,997 applications. (Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily)

MySinchew 2010.08.20


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