Nation-Building Cannot Begin from Irrational Premises
FROM LIM KIT SIANG’S BLOG
By Farish A. Noor
It has become ever-so-trendy of late to talk about nation-building in the most inclusive and open-ended of terms. After assuming office more than a month ago, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak began speaking at length about the notion of a ‘United Malaysia’ – which was in turn claimed by opposition parties in the country as their idea as well. In Thailand a slew of parties have claimed monopoly over the concept of a singular, united Thailand. While in Burma since the 1960s the aims of nation-building have been the same as they are now: to bring together the disparate array of ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups under the same banner of a singular Burmese identity.
Now there is nothing wrong with nation-building per se (for indeed one cannot imagine any form of governance without some semblance of a nation-building project accompanying it), and there is nothing wrong with wanting to bring different communities together. What has to be questioned critically, however, is this: What is the final aim of such nation-building projects; what are the premises upon which they are based; and can such projects ever get to their appointed destinations if the premises upon which they are laid are somehow faulty themselves?
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