New Straits Times - - Letters -

We live in the same coun­try, but also in our own lit­tle si­los.

Last week, I or­gan­ised an in­ter­faith di­a­logue. We in­vited Mus­lims, Chris­tians, Hin­dus, Bud­dhists and other re­li­gious lead­ers na­tion­wide to at­tend.

The pur­pose was both sym­bolic and foun­da­tional. By gath­er­ing dif­fer­ent heads of com­mu­ni­ties, we aimed to so­lid­ify the im­age of a united, tol­er­ant and open­minded Malaysia.

Strate­gi­cally, the di­a­logue nar­rowed down to how we could trans­late in­ter­faith di­a­logue into in­ter­faith action. Be­cause, by action, we hope to cre­ate a mo­men­tum of pro­gres­sive in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity, where we can learn from one an­other, sup­port each other and strengthen that bridge that con­nects us — the fact that we are all Malaysian — to solve prob­lems ahead.

In the Qu­ran’s Su­rah Al Hu­ju­rat, God re­minds us that he cre­ated us in dif­fer­ent tribes, races and com­mu­ni­ties so that we “may know one an­other”.

This su­rah does not say we should try to con­vert one an­other, but sim­ply that di­ver­sity is ac­cepted and that we should get to know one an­other on a deeper level, heart to heart.

Di­ver­sity was God’s plan for us to grow as a com­mu­nity through in­ter­con­nec­tiv­ity.

The ques­tion then is whether the po­lit­i­cal di­vide at the top is the cause for com­mu­nal di­vide, or the di­vide is ac­tu­ally from the ground and af­fect­ing the top.

As a se­na­tor, it has be­come my role to ex­em­plify an open and ap­proach­able Malaysia that can be mir­rored by Malaysians.

I be­lieve it is high time pol­i­tics to­day be­came the ex­am­ple of ma­tu­rity that is based on facts rather than emo­tions.

What can we do to re­duce po­lar­i­sa­tion in po­lit­i­cal dis­course? What can we do to con­nect with our po­lit­i­cal coun­ter­parts?

For a start, it is vi­tal that we recog­nise that the po­lit­i­cal di­vide in our coun­try is based on a deep moral di­vide. sourc­ing prod­ucts at low costs.

Since 2008, air­lines have stopped giv­ing com­mis­sions of five per cent for do­mes­tic flights, and nine per cent for in­ter­na­tional flights.

There is no point in set­ting up a travel agency un­less one can se­cure ma­jor cor­po­rate ac­counts and charge man­age­ment fees for han­dling cor­po­rate trav­els.

Malaysia’s tourism re­ceipts

On one side, some Malaysians may pri­ori­tise val­ues like trans­parency and equal­ity, while oth­ers may up­hold re­li­gion and iden­tity as big­ger val­ues. Do the peo­ple who value re­li­gion and iden­tity not care about equal­ity?

Cer­tainly not, it just means that from their up­bring­ing, they have learned to lean to­wards those par­tic­u­lar val­ues more. Th­ese val­ues be­come what Malaysians de­fine them­selves as. It trans­lates into what you read and watch.

Part of the rea­son that our com­mu­ni­ties and politi­cians have be­come so an­tag­o­nised with one an­other is be­cause we talk to each other based on our per­son­ally-held val­ues. For ex­am­ple, some­one who up­holds re­li­gion as a pri­or­ity may talk to oth­ers in rhetoric that cen­tres on re­li­gion.

Those lis­ten­ing, who have dif­fer­ent be­liefs and val­ues, may not click with the per­son’s ar­gu­ment and end up dis­agree­ing.

So, here’s the so­lu­tion. If you want to per­suade your coun­ter­parts on cer­tain poli­cies that you from for­eign visi­tors are ex­pected to reach RM168 bil­lion by 2020, and those get­ting 72 per cent of the cake do not need a TOBTAB li­cence as they are in re­tail, ac­com­mo­da­tion, and food and bev­er­age sec­tors.

Any­one wish­ing to do business in this coun­try can eas­ily set up a pri­vate lim­ited com­pany with one or more per­sons in charge.

Large cor­po­ra­tions set up sub­sidiaries know they may dis­agree with, your first step must be to iden­tify and con­nect with the val­ues that your coun­ter­part have.

If you are a mem­ber of par­lia­ment from DAP and you want to preach on gen­der equal­ity to some­one from Pas, struc­ture your ar­gu­ment in a way that re­volves around the val­ues of Is­lam.

If we truly value our coun­try, we have to let go of the im­ma­ture “he pushed me, he hurt me first” level of bick­er­ing.

Putting our coun­try back to­gether re­quires the col­lab­o­ra­tion of all lead­ers. Fear mon­ger­ing and the ham­per­ing of com­mu­ni­ca­tion need to stop.

Even more crit­i­cal is the need for us to en­gage one an­other in a level that is un­selfish and un­der­stand­ing of each other’s val­ues.

We owe it to one an­other and to our coun­try to reach out and con­nect. to re­duce risks to their en­tire or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Even as­so­ci­a­tions set up sub­sidiaries to do business to in­cur less tax. If a co­op­er­a­tive wishes to ven­ture into a business that is not its forte, it is bet­ter to stay out and ex­plore fran­chise op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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