WE have bade farewell to a traumatic, tragedy-filled year 2014 and welcomed 2015 which we hope will be a better and promising year.
A new year brings with it new resolutions, new hopes and new aspirations, and obviously different people have different resolutions.
To the 1Malaysia Foundation, if there is one new year resolution which should be pursued, it is the need for all Malaysians to resolve to stand firm for diversity and moderation as a way towards reducing conflict and building a strong foundation of unity in our multiracial nation.
Moderation is vital for unity, peace and harmony, and our foundation wishes to applaud Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd’s initiative to launch the “Brave Views, Bold Ideas” campaign which emphasises the role of the media to encourage Malaysians to stand up for moderation.
Multiracial living and community are part of our history and heritage. They have become an important source of racial integration for many years and have certainly played a part in making Malaysia a harmonious place to live, learn, work and play.
Unity is a priceless gift that must be preserved and cherished by all Malaysians in a multiracial country like Malaysia.
Unity among the diverse races, religions and cultures is the nation’s biggest challenge in 2015 – the challenge that is key to our very survival.
Racial and religious polarisation are the biggest obstacles to national unity and it should be the responsibility of all Malaysians to reject such polarisation in whatever form, for the sake of racial and religious harmony as well as unity.
In this regard policy makers, planners and implementers have to be committed to the principle that their thoughts and deeds would always be guided by moderation and governed by the aims and objectives of the Rukunegara and the sacrosanctity of the Federal Constitution.
Looking at the present scenario today, our nation, particularly in peninsular Malaysia, appears to be more and more polarised along the lines of race and religion despite having achieved five decades of independence.
The spirit of friendship, neighbourliness and trust, based on sharing and respecting each other regardless of social, economic and religious backgrounds that we experienced in the 1970s till the late 1990s appears to be diminishing day by day.
Crime, social issues, education and politics are often infused with the element of race and religion, followed by the articulation of extreme and insensitive remarks by several quarters without due regard to the sensitivities of one another’s race and religion.
The immediate and most urgent task for all Malaysians today is to stand up and be counted to check the surge of extremism and religious bigotry.
For those who persist in making incendiary statements and instigating racial and religious tension, action should be taken against them without fear or favour and that would help restore public confidence in the process.
The immediate task of all political leaders and all strata of society is to stop the drift towards racial and religious polarisation.
If politicians are not able to unite the nation, then it is now time for the people to innovate and take initiatives to break any racial divide that exists and go beyond politics to strive towards unity.
To prevent Malaysians from further drifting apart and to heal a divided nation, it is the people of all races who must be concerned about the future of our nation and be prepared to integrate, beginning from a young age with the help of the teachers.
The best way for us to take care of this situation is in schools, where children are young and can be moulded into not looking at things through race-coloured lenses.
We need to be able to put our children together and let them grow up together. In play and in the classrooms our children must be able to know, understand and appreciate their fellow citizens of different skin colours. The earlier the better. They will soon need to build this nation together.
The most urgent task for all patriotic Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion and political affiliation, is to ensure racial and religious harmony and reject all forms of extremism which can undermine inter-racial and inter-religious peace and harmony.
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