Using post-May 13 pointers for new cultural policy not a good idea

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Mohamaddin Ketapi’s statement that recommendations of the National Cultural Policy of 1971 will be used in the drafting of the new policy has raised some concerns.

PKR Bukit Tengah assemblyperson Gooi Hsiao Leung said the recommendations are “outdated, narrow-minded and unworkable”.

In explaining this, Gooi pointed out that the raced-based 1971 National Culture Policy, introduced after the May 13 riots of 1969, was based on three principles namely that the national culture must be based on Malay culture; suitable elements from other cultures may be accepted as part of the national culture; and Islam is an important component in moulding the national culture.

“I believe we have to move away from the outdated, narrow-minded and unworkable race-based assimilation approach adopted almost 40 years ago, which has failed to foster genuine national unity in our multi-racial and multi-religious country,” Gooi said in a statement.

“Instead, the core principles to be embedded in our new culture policy must be premised on building a Malaysian identity as opposed to race-based identity,” he added.

Gooi was responding to Mohamaddin’s statement that the final draft of the new National Culture Policy to create an advanced nation steeped in culture through the promotion of arts, culture and heritage is expected to be ready in September.

He added the drafting of the new policy took into account the recommendations made in the National Culture Policy 1971 study.

Yesterday, Bernama quoted Mohamaddin (photo below) as saying that “It is still at the stage of gathering information and we are confident that the new policy will bring more benefits with the focus on building a Malaysian identity”.

However, Gooi lauded the Tourism Minister’s statement that the government is drafting a new national cultural policy, which he said must be focused on building a “Malaysian” identity as the previous government had failed to promote national unity.

“We now have a golden opportunity to correct BN’s failure.

“The importance of such a policy in nation-building cannot be overstated – as it would chart the socio-economic and political development of our country for decades to come,” Gooi said.

“In this regard, the Pakatan Harapan government’s national framework of its new culture policy must be guided by objectives that embrace and promote pluralism and cultural diversity in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious country,” Gooi added.

“Only when we genuinely embrace and promote cultural diversity in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society – will we be able to move forward in creating a nation that is truly moderate, inclusive and united.

“This will make Malaysia a global model of inter-racial and inter-religious harmony that is respected internationally, as envisaged in the 5th Pillar of our Harapan manifesto.” 

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