Published on: Sunday, March 16, 2014
Although Labuan was at a healthy state as far as racial harmony was concerned, NUCC Deputy Chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said its platform here was to give Labuanites an opportunity to be heard and to take their views into consideration to formulate the National Unity Blueprint.
Saying the report would be submitted to the Prime Minister in six months' time, he described the enthusiastic participation as a testimony of the interest towards national unity.
"The purpose of the dialogue is not because we are facing a crisis, but because unity is of utmost importance for the country to move forward.
Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan have proven to be successful models of racial and religious harmony. NUCC is here to listen and to take views into consideration," he said, pointing out the situation in West Malaysia was threatened by polarisation due to certain issues.
As soon as the floor was opened, the comments came fast and furious.
Speaker after speaker lamented that over-politicking had made work come to almost a standstill.
A teacher was saddened by the politicking in the education system.
A case in point was the introduction of the School Assessment System (PBS).
"Politics should be seasonal but it has reached a state we politick day and night for mileage. Because of this, we can't do our work properly," the 40-something teacher said.
UMS-KAL lecturer Dr Zamhar Isnando Ismail called for universal free healthcare and education up to university, including welfare as the route to national unity.
"When people are free from debts and are happy, they will reject all forms of extremism. Scandinavian countries are the best examples.
Though the citizens pay high taxes, they are not bogged down by worries and become productive. So they don't mind," Zamhar spoke at the floor.
Sheelena Joyce Sandanadass, also a student of the same campus, said it was humanity that united the country, not through racial grouping.
"The missing MH370 brings Malaysians to pray together, irrespective of race and faith. As for identification of race, it should be purely for the research of diseases, and not for application of aid, education and jobs," she said.
Her university mate, who is Indian, said higher education should not be based on race. It would be a waste if talented young students were denied places in the public university.
"The main cause of brain drain is when other countries recognised their potential and offer them scholarships and other perks to work there upon graduation. We accept foreigners but reject our own people with talents," she noted.
Labuan Inter Church Council warned of the dissatisfaction and disunity being sown among the youths in institutions of higher learning.
Its spokeswoman suggested for more dialogues to open up space for understanding and to learn about each other.
In closing the dialogue, the Deputy Chairman of NUCC assured PAS that the views expressed at the dialogue were taken seriously as the Islamic party representative questioned whether it was a waste of public funds to hold the roadshow here.