on Saturday, October 13

By: Dr. Al-Azharri Siddiq Kamunri,

Malaysia entered a new phase when Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the country's administration from the Barisan Nasional after GE14. This is the first change in leadership since UMNO/BN ruled the country from independence in 1957.

With the change in leadership, the main question is “Is Malaysia are ready to face the global changes brought about by the 4th Industrial Revolution, the US-China trade war, and come out stronger in addressing security issues facing the country?

The Clash
Several scholarly views have been offered in addressing the preparedness of the country and its peoples in facing these issues. Huntington (1996) for example states that the problem of value collisions and clashes of civilizations will shape the world in the 22nd century. Among the most significant conflicts that would arise will be trade war between China and the United States. For Malaysia, the contestations between various ethnic groups will define development in the political, social and economic spheres. It is interesting to note that many evidences suggest that unity in the name of ideology and politics will not last long and will remain fluid. For example, Koreans in South and North Korea are of the same race, but they are separated by ideology and politics. However, during the 2018 Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia, the Koreans from these two countries are united in the name of the Korean Union because they have the same core civilization, DNA and culture.

As Malaysia goes through a process of change especially with the new government, Malaysians should look forward to making this change themselves in a continuing effort to build the country. When there is a change in government, Malaysians must also change but not at the expense of damaging the core values of the country that has been well grounded in the national constitution. In this issue, I bring five elements that should be dear to every Malaysian.

Five National Construction Elements of Malaysia

1. Patriotism
Often debated by academics, politicians, and governments but all seem to concur that patriotism is very important in promoting the identity of the people toward one nation-state. However, it has been found that this patriotic spirit has declined among many Malaysians. Studies show that this happens because of the greater love for materialism or sometime referred to as value-based patriotism. Patriotism is egocentric and has to do with the willingness to sacrifice and defend national security against domestic and foreign threats. Patriotism cannot be expressed only by abstract forms such as the flying of flags, but it should be accompanied by value-added elements such as trust, hate of corruption and keeping internal and external cleanliness. A simple example: does one remove trash by throwing them out of their car window? Is this not a waste to the country? Little thing such as the former is patriotic value that needs to be nurtured from small. The people need to be aware that among others, patriotism emphasizes good behavior and not just of loyalty. Patriotism must be reflected by deeds to be demonstrable, seen and can be followed.

2. Democracy
Democracy is a wide spread practice in many countries in the world today, though the democratic form varies due to different historical backgrounds. In the context of Malaysia, one that is to be praised is that Malaysians accept government change at federal and state levels well. There were no riots and demonstrations, but Malaysians were seen to take this change very well. The simple concept of democracy is “a rule of the people, by the people and for the people”. Although scholars such as Francis Fukuyama and Almond & Verba claim that democracy does not fully satisfy all parties, the multiracial Malaysians continue to enjoy security and well-being in their daily lives.

3. Nationalism
Among the appropriate interpretations of nationalism is by Lord Acton (1972) who said that nationalism is a love of and love for the country. The formation of the soul of patriotism must be based on the spirit of nationalism. The sense of nationalism in every individual citizen needs to be continued with the spirit of patriotism in the love of and willingness to sacrifice for the nation. In the context of Malaysia after PRU14, some exciting events should consider the uses of 'we Malaysian nation,' 'we Malaysians,' 'we are Malaysian' and so on. Malaysians must change so that our country will continue to move forward without compromising the fundamentals as set out in the Federal Constitution. The effort to build unity requires a new approach in line with current changes, especially for the new generations.

4. Welfare
One of the conditions of national security is that the well-being that must be felt and enjoyed by all. Wellness can be seen in the context of religion, economy, politics, and education. A simple example is in the religious context; most are aware that Malaysia has a diversity of beliefs; today a threat from global terrorism is threatening to compromise Malaysia's security. Security forces may be able to monitor and control religious risks in social medias and internet, but terrorist groups in the community are more complicated to manage. They are not well-known, well-organized and have no early signs of being a threaten to safety and well-being of the people until they become one, and by which time, it is a little late to nip.

5. Unity
Given current world development, each country appears to unite themselves with their allies through similarity and common interests in terms of economic, political or social matters. For example, European countries are trying to come together to build a stronger economic community in the form of an (EEC). China is increasingly open in all respects but has being consolidating itself with its new initiative such as the famous Chinese Belt that spread across to Asia, Arab, Europe and Russia. This initiative has given rise to a possible clash known today as the Trade War.

In Malaysia, racial conflict is small because the government has successfully implemented various programs to thwart the former and unite the various ethnic groups. But its success is not absolute and guaranteed because disruptive elements are always looking for space in society to commit crimes and terrorism and therefore derail this good effort. Risk of conflicts among multiracial peoples is a more significant conflict because of competition in politics and economics based along racial line. We cannot take the “wait and see” attitude because time do not wait for bad things to happen. To ensure security of the nation, the people need to move forward, making the ones that have passed as a guide for more secure national security in the future.

Closing: Regional Union

Regional unity is fundamental in the survival of the Malaysian nation. If the Malaysian federal system that has been set up since September 16, 1963, becomes more relaxed, the country will face security issues. Understand that the unity of Malaysians will bring strength, togetherness brings strength and separation will bring weakness. If unity of the state is weak, then it is easy for our country to slip into decline whether in politics, social and economic matter.
The writer’s field of study is Politics and Government and has interests on issues relating to nation-building, national security and patriotism.

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