Stop issuing statements that can incite racial tension – Unity Minister

People’s sense of solidarity and unity will be the main key to facing any threats to the country’s peacefulness and keeping the harmony will be a shared responsibility, says National Unity Minister Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8: While the National Unity Ministry does not have the enforcement powers to take legal action against any acts intended to provoke racial tension, it has the capacities to tackle issues of misundertanding or any communal disharmony on a more fundamental level, said its minister Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang.

He said the ministry, through several mechanisms under the Department of National Unity and National Integration (JPNIN), continues to play an important role in ensuring harmony among the people.

In a statement today, appealing for a stop to any action or statement by parties that can cause a rift among the people or hurt the sensitivities of Malaysians of various races, Aaron said as responsible Malaysians, each had a duty to protect the peace and harmony enjoyed by the country.

People should not resort to any provocative and aggressive action that can bring about conflicts and disturbances, he said.

The ministry through JPNIN currently manages and monitors issues related to unity in the country through a system called E-Sepakat. This system identifies, monitors and reports related issues online, replacing the manual way, and involves unity officers at district, state and the headquarters.

The information in the system is also shared by the ministry with strategic partners like the Police, National Security Council and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

The minister said there was also dashboard to track the operations and effectiveness of the teams addressing matters of communal harmony including the monitoring of areas of high risk and hot spots where communal misunderstandings can possibly happen. This is to ensure that such events do not jeopordise the harmony of the people in the country, while maintaining healthy race relations. Early warning systems are also in place to alert of any impending conflicts.

He said the ministry also had 562 trained and certified mediators who help settle on a voluntary basis any conflicts at community level, and their scope covers issues like conflicts between neighbours, be it in the urban areas, villages and cases they have brought to resolutions cover from loud noises, common property to garbage and parking among others.

Under the ministry, the Interfaith Harmony Committee (JK Harmoni) is also there, comprising leaders from various religions, to promote healthy relations among the leaders as well as people of various faiths in the country. The core of the committee is on ensuring mutual respect and cooperation at all levels and this committee also helps resolve any conflict or misunderstanding on religious matters through mediation and intervention.

He also stressed that unlike the Home Ministry and Communications Ministry, the ministry had no enforcement powers and hence its focus was more on monitoring and carrying out intevention programmes especially in high risk areas to raise interactions and integration among the people of various races in the area.

He also said that the people’s sense of solidarity and unity will be the main key to face any threats to the country’s peacefulness and hence it was a shared responsibility for all to retain a harmonious nation.