The Prime Minister’s move to set up the 1 Malaysia Roundtable heralds a formal beginning for hands-on citizen participation in planning for the development of the country. By inviting ideas and solutions from the people to determine the way forward in the areas identified, the government led by Dato’ Seri Najib is reaching out to collaborate with the “real” stakeholders of government policies and programmes viz the people themselves. This, after all, is the underlying principle of democracy – “a government for the people, by the people”.

As commendable as the idea of a national online dialogue is, there will emerge the problem of mediating the potentially huge volumes of input and the selection of those worthy to be taken a notch higher. There will arise the usual grouses of bias and selective discrimination by the subject matter experts (SMEX) after the usual questioning of their appointment. As is typical in Malaysia, there are many people with expertise and experience who feel they have a lot to contribute. They will wonder why they have been sidelined. Why them? Why not me?

Much wisdom must therefore be exercised in the handling of this formidable task. In order to have meaningful citizen engagement, the approach must first of all be bottoms-up and inclusive with the SMEX putting their ears to the ground to listen. They should avoid the temptation of talking down to the people before they fully understand their roles and functions.

It is unavoidable that certain ground rules have to be laid for the effective management of the procedures and the processes. For this an online road show is necessary for the SMEX to invite comment and constructive criticism. An open, inclusive strategy is indeed the way forward.

The idea of a large-scale citizen engagement managed by one entity is novel but the reality out there is that there are already numerous individuals and groups who have initiated efforts to harness positive contributions to Malaysia’s development. They have come up with dynamic charters and missions to realise their aims and objectives. Many have come up with innovative programmes and activities to involve the community in nation building.

The 1 Malaysia Roundtable SMEX should collaborate with these individuals and groups to share their caring principles of peace and unity. One such group is the Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience & Reason (PCORE) which is guided by the following objectives:

(i)T o establish effective channels and linkages for peace building efforts at the personal, community and organisational levels

(ii)To promote a dynamic vision for nation building and development that optimises shared resources, talents and skills among diverse groups

(iii)To develop a substantive body of oral and written discourse built upon moral conscience and reason on issues of public concern at public forums, in the media, on the internet, in reputable journals and magazines and other relevant channels

(iv)To implement meaningful programmes and activities that promote the personal and group needs and interests of its members and members of the bigger community
PCORE has identified the following ten (10) areas of concern in its bid to promote peace and unity at the individual, organisational and community levels:

1. Community networking and neighbourliness
2. Celebrating diversity and interfaith relations
3. Synergising the school and home in the education of the young
4. Creating a robust environment for improving health and wellness
5. Uplifting socio-economic status through education and training
6. Sustaining and preserving the natural and cultural heritage
7. Promoting effective language and communication strategies
8. Ensuring fairness, justice and legal equity
9. Building integrity and ethical standards
10. Consolidating national integration and unity

Smaller circles engaged in these peace-building and unity efforts must be recognised and encouraged to run parallel with the 1Malaysia Roundtable. Many civil society and citizen movements have been actively involved in online dialogues, on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and in their blogs and websites. It’s a shame if they are not included in the structure of the 1Malaysia Roundtable.

1 Response to “”

  1. June 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Ambiga’s noble intentions will be drowned by the strident voices of populist leaders who will call BERSIH’s shots and turn the street demonstration into a premature general election campaign. What should be the BERSIH chief’s earnest and articulate voice speaking up at local conventions and international symposiums will degenerate into the name-calling and blame game typical of Malaysian politics.

    Noble? If she calls off the rally, then she might be considered noble..note. Might, But clearly whats clear is …….

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June 2011


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