HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas says he is tired - very tired of the way people are tearing the fabric of unity in this multi-racial country.
He does not just say this, as one can see when one enters his office, in Chinese New Year mode, despite him being a senior figure of in the Malay-dominant Umno party. His office receptionist is Indian and his long-time secretary is a Chinese woman who endearingly tells me to "go soft on him".
I don't agree with the way Robert Kuok, for instance - being called all kinds of names. Why do that? Why create so much unpleasantness?
Megat says that given the way some leaders of Umno are behaving, it is giving a bad example to the youngsters and creating much unpleasantness among the various races, who have lived together so long harmoniously.
"This name-calling is so prevalent in this country. Anything that you try to do - all the do-gooders are always embellished with all kinds of names. Name-calling, character-assassination - that's what I said just now - it seems to be the norm now. If they don't agree with you, they start calling you names."
"It's very sad and I don't agree with the way Robert Kuok, for instance - being called all kinds of names. Why do that? Why create so much unpleasantness?" asks Megat.
A former Petronas director and Chairman of a few PLCs, this corporate leader who was a lawyer by training, says that there seem to be a lack of basic humanity in some leaders of Umno. He says that the mingling among other races is missing and people tend to congregate only within their own race.
Megat, who until very recently was part of the Umno disciplinary committee and former two-term State Assemblyman of Kelana Jaya in 1986, says he has no qualms speaking his mind, even though he knows that he will get flak for speaking out in Umno.
He says there is no reason for anyone to be so crude. He recalls his school-days at the Malay College of Kuala Kangsar (MCKK).
"In my time, we were all nationalistic, (but) we mixed with other races very well, because we were all English-educated and we could communicate with each other. But now, there is no communication,” he says.
"You see the youngsters now, they only congregate with their own kind - the Malays with the Malays, the Chinese with the Chinese, the Indians with the Indians - we cannot get united with the way things are. And that's the big difference.
"I have a lot of non-malay friends. I had non-Malay teachers. Although I was from MCKK - MCKK was all Malays - but our view of the world is quite different because of the multi-racial nature of teaching," says Megat, remembering the Irish headmaster who imparted strong values which he says he is keeping for a lifetime.