By : CLARA CHOOI (TMI)
DATUK Seri Idris Jala said today that nationality, race and religion are of equal importance when determining an individual’s true Malaysian identity.
“I get upset with people stuck with this whole Malaysian first dilemma. Why must I be Malaysian first and Malay second?” he said when dissecting the 1 Malaysia concept during his keynote address at an intercultural dialogue this afternoon.
He added that by insisting that the ‘Malaysian’ tag should supercede others, it was tantamount to saying that the hand is more important than the leg or vice-versa.
“They are all individual identities that are equally as important, you cannot say one is more important than another,” he said.
Jala added that under the 1 Malaysia concept, an ‘ideal world’ would be for society to comprise those who are proud to call themselves Malaysians, friends who mix with those of all backgrounds, schools with a healthy mix of races and religions, residential areas with a similarly diverse make-up and a system of social support that is needs and not merits-based.
In such a world, said Jala, Malaysians would have achieved “level two and level three” of the 1 Malaysia concept, which is accepting and celebrating diversity.
The “Malaysian first, Malay next” dilemma hit the headlines first in 2010 when DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang challenged Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to declare if he placed his national identity above his race.