Peninsular Malaysians have a lot to learn from their fellow citizens in multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic Sabah and Sarawak.
1Malaysia Foundation Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye pointed out that diversity is the country’s strength and recipe for success.
“After 53 years of the formation of Malaysia, we, regardless of the states we came from, should be more united because we share the same hopes, dreams and goals,” he said in his Malaysia Day message yesterday.
“I have always believed that to be a Malaysian does not make a person less Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban, Bidayuh and others. All of us should proudly identify ourselves first as Malaysian.”
Lee called on Malaysians “to strengthen solidarity, especially in the current challenging domestic and external environments”.
“History proves that Malaysia is able to overcome any challenges if its people are united and jointly overcoming the adversities,” he said.
On the current situation in the country where racial polarisation still remains a serious issue, he said the need to strengthen social harmony and unity is even more vital.
He called on Malaysians to never allow harmonious relations among the various races to be threatened as this could lead to discord and lack of understanding and mutual respect.
Lee said Malaysians must oppose religious bigotry and racial extremism and stand up for moderation.
“We need to appreciate the concept of unity under 1Malaysia where everyone accepts the uniqueness of the others so that we can live together in mutual respect and trust,” he said.
Towards this end, he hoped East Malaysians would continue to support the country’s social integration so that sustainable progress can continue.
“We need to stop talking about ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ or ‘Sabah for Sabahans’, as we are all Malaysians,” he added.
He said Malaysia Day should rekindle the spirit of patriotism in the hearts of all Malaysians.
“For this year’s Malaysia Day, we must renew our sense of love for the nation and help support the country’s resolution to bolster its identity in the international arena.
“The success and fighting spirit of Malaysian Olympic and Paralympic teams in Brazil should be a springboard to renew and fortify the patriotic spirit of each Malaysian and subsequently, strengthen the unity among Malaysians regardless of race, religious belief and culture,” he added.
Peter Boon, firstname.lastname@example.org