Inclusiveness of all communities key to developing unity


From Malaysia Unity Foundation Trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

KOTA KINABALU: Sept 16 is the day when Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak officially joined hands to become one Nation-Malaysia.

Let Sept 16 be a day to reflect on the sacrifices of our forefathers in the struggle to put our nation on the world map. Independence, peace, social acceptance and religious freedom are something we should all be thankful for.

In all three regions, the community is multi-cultural and diverse. This is an advantage if we can leverage on the different strengths of the various regions and communities coming together as one to create a strong Malaysian Nation. Inclusiveness of all communities is key to developing unity.

To me, the challenge is how to foster national unity, rather than just a question between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak.

SABAH and SARAWAK are practical and visible examples of unity in diversity where Malaysians of diverse ethnic groups are able to live, learn, work and play together harmoniously.

Malaysians of different ethnic origin must always be conscious of the need to have mutual respect for one another. They must always remain vigilant and be conscious of the sensitivities of our respective religions and cultures for the sake of inter-racial harmony.

In this respect, I believe people in Peninsular Malaysia can learn from Sarawakians and Sabahans. All of us must not only learn to tolerate but also to accept and celebrate our diversity and differences. This must happen in all walks of life.

This is not just about what the government is doing or not doing but what all of us Malaysians are doing every day to accept, celebrate and harness our diversity.

As regards the future, I wish for a Malaysia where the concept of fairness to all is real, where no group is marginalized and where support and opportunities are provided on the basis of need and merit.

It is also my wish for a Malaysia where we embrace our diversity of ethnicity, religions and beliefs, and by being inclusive, build mutual respect and acceptance into a solid foundation of trust and cohesiveness. In doing so, people will always be proud to identify themselves as Malaysians, and less by race, religion, geography or socio-economic background.
A historic day like this should be able to rekindle the spirit of patriotism in the hearts of all-racial Malaysians.

There is a long road ahead of our nation and it is important for us to ensure that multi-racial Malaysia continues to be a country that has a conducive and encouraging environment for Malaysians to develop their potential to the fullest.

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