It helps ad­dress mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, mi­grant is­sues in Asia and Europe

New Straits Times - - Nation - LAILI IS­MAIL AND AINA NASA KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

GLOBAL is­sues of mi­gra­tion and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism in Asian and Eu­ro­pean com­mu­ni­ties must be tack­led by en­abling so­cial co­he­sion, which func­tions as the foun­da­tion of any com­mu­nity.

Univer­sity of Gothen­burg In­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary Cog­ni­tive Sci­ence and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion-ori­ented Cen­tre di­rec­tor Pro­fes­sor Jens All­wood said all com­mu­ni­ties needed a form of so­cial co­he­sion, whether by way of hu­man uni­ver­sals, man-made for­mal laws or in­for­mal prac­tices.

“With re­gard to in­for­mal prac­tices in a mul­ti­cul­tural com­mu­nity, tol­er­ance, ac­cep­tance and flex- ibil­ity must go in both di­rec­tions. Dom­i­nant groups must tol­er­ate and ac­cept cul­tural dif­fer­ences of non-dom­i­nant groups and vice versa,” he said dur­ing the Asia-Europe Con­fer­ence 2017 here yes­ter­day.

Mi­gra­tion and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism have been re­garded as among the most chal­leng­ing ob­sta­cles faced by the global com­mu­nity, he said, adding that they must be faced headon as they were here to stay.

All­wood out­lined three bot­tle­necks to achiev­ing pos­i­tive in­te­gra­tion and to avoid the dan­gers of sep­a­ratism, seg­re­ga­tion and ex­trem­ism.

They are com­pe­tence in lan­guage and cul­ture, find­ing em­ploy­ment for mi­grants and friend­ship.

“We need to en­able na­tional com­mu­nity co­he­sion while al­low­ing mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. For this, in­di­vid­u­als need the sense and need to be shar­ing some­thing or have some­thing in com­mon. Other­wise there will be no com­mu­nity be­cause mi­gra­tion is here for the long run.”

Univer­sity of Bern pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy Pro­fes­sor Chris­tian Joppke said em­ploy­ing mi­grants was a nec­es­sary goal, but the struc­ture of mi­gra­tion in Europe stem­ming from fam­ily and asy­lum mi­gra­tion com­pli­cated the sit­u­a­tion.

“In Europe, we have fam­ily and asy­lum mi­gra­tion as op­posed to labour mi­gra­tion in other parts of the world. These mi­grants are low skilled and come from ru­ral ori­gins un­fit for a pros­per­ous econ­omy. Un­em­ploy­ment is a chronic prob­lem, but it is not re­flec­tive of the needs of so­ci­ety.”

Sin­ga­porean aca­demic and for­mer diplo­mat Pro­fes­sor Kishore Mah­bubani said the Eu­ro­pean Union should look to Asean in ad­dress­ing its in­abil­ity to ex­port eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to man­age the Mediter­ranean mi­gra­tion cri­sis.

He said the EU should cre­ate well-func­tion­ing economies, es­pe­cially in North Africa, and fail­ure to do so would ex­ac­er­bate the cri­sis.

“By 2100, Africa’s pop­u­la­tion will be 10 times that of Europe and this (mi­gra­tion cri­sis) is go­ing to be a huge ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis... and the an­swer to this chal­lenge lies in Asean. To pro­mote de­vel­op­ment in North Africa, look at the re­gion that has fared well in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. Imag­ine a North Africa that looks like Asean.

“En­gag­ing Asean and us­ing it as the ve­hi­cle to trans­form North Africa is your pass­port to long-term se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity.”

Jens All­wood

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