Thriving on diversity in nation-building

Over 300 people attended the Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Lecture by former Inspector General of Police Tun Hanif Omar at the main campus.

The crowd at the public lecture.

The crowd at the public lecture.

Speaking on ‘Nation Building and Good Governance – Challenges and Opportunities for Malaysia in the 21 Century’, Tun Hanif believed Malaysia fell short on three out of the six attributes of a nation, when starting out in the road to nation-building.

“We didn’t have a distinct race of people, common descent, or common language. We also cannot completely say we had a shared history,” he stated, adding that the country however had a separate, political state and a definite territory.

Tun Hanif Omar.

Tun Hanif Omar.

Highlighting a few provisions, he said the Constitution had good governance and safeguards for the nation to “thrive on the advantage of our diversities to develop and to compete favourably against other countries” as we progress towards a positive nation-building.

During the Q&A, on whether the current education of the young leads to nation-building or disintegration of races, he responded: “I blame the education system as they don’t place emphasis on the history of the country, the constitution, and how we developed over the years. Having a lopsided view of things based on race or religion makes it all the more difficult to build a united nation.”

He said the other problem was that “we don’t teach our children to ponder, to criticise and to crystallise their views”.

The Q&A in progress. At left is Vice Chancellor Prof Wong Tat Meng.

The Q&A in progress. At left is Vice Chancellor Prof Wong Tat Meng.

On another question, he remarked that there was a surplus of entertainment talk shows but not enough intellectual discussions, including on sensitive matters.  He said sensitive matters must be handled properly, stating, “It would ruffle feathers of course. When ruffle feathers, you must know when to let go and come in again. And frequent exposure to this will wear out the sensitivity.”

This 7th annual Putra lecture was organised by the Penang Free School (PFS) Foundation with the support of WOU. Among the attendees were event organising chairman Prof Dato’ Anwar Fazal, WOU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Wong Tat Meng, and PFS Foundation chairman Dato’ Haji Kamil Khalid Ariff.