It was a spectacular view last Sunday morning as thousands of people from all walks of life, ethnicity and religion – men, women and children – gathered at Bukit Bintang just after dawn to take part in the Anak-Anak Malaysia Walk 2016, which was flagged off by Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Hj. Mhd. Amin Nordin bin Abd. Aziz.

The Anak-Anak Malaysia Walk 2016 was jointly organised by Star Media Group and EcoWorld Development Group Berhad (EcoWorld) to spread the message of unity and moderation to all Malaysians in conjunction with the coming Merdeka and Malaysia Day.

Last year, the campaign saw Malaysians wearing the signature #AnakAnakMalaysia wristbands to express their patriotism. This year, Star Media Group and EcoWorld went a step ahead to organise the walk to signify our nation’s diversity, peace, harmony and stability.

I am proud to be one of the participants in the 3.4km walk, which started at the junction of Jalan Imbi and Jalan Pudu at the site of the former Pudu Jail. Before the flag-off, the crowd sang Negara Ku with zeal, passion and patriotism.

As the participants emerged from the former Pudu Jail entrance, everyone cheerfully walked at their own pace, either with their spouse or family, friends or colleagues. Also spotted were Malaysians walking together with their non-Malaysian spouses.

Everyone was either smiling or laughing, waving the mini Jalur Gemilang and occasionally taking selfies of themselves or with the participating celebrities.

It was a pleasant morning walk as the route covered the Bukit Bintang-Pudu area where one could see the KL Tower and KLCC in the distance. For me, it was a nostalgic walk as I could see the familiar landmarks which I was closely associated with as MP for Kuala Lumpur Bandar/ Bukit Bintang from 1974 to 1990.

Judging from the overwhelming response of the participants, we can say that the Anak-Anak Malaysia Walk was a success and should be made an annual event as part of Merdeka and Malaysia Day celebrations.

Participants sat together at makeshift tables and chairs near food trucks, having drinks and meals while chatting with people whom they had just met. When the lucky draw winners were announced, everyone cheered for them as if we were one big family.

On the same day and at the same time, Malaysians up north also gathered for the Anak-Anak Malaysia Walk at George Town. The Anak-Anak Malaysia Walk also attracted the attention of Malaysians around the world. Since they were not able to make it for the walk in Kuala Lumpur or Penang, they sent their photos to show their support.

This unity campaign is timely when Malaysia is threatened by growing polarisation within the country and external influence of terrorist ideologies. The coming Merdeka and Malaysia Day should be the time for all Malaysians to show solidarity and strengthen our resolve to break any existing racial divide and defend our peace-loving nation from the extremists.

Everyone has a role to play by consciously promoting and practising moderation, tolerance and understanding based on the values and virtues of their religion. Each initiative towards unity and harmony, no matter how small, counts. Let us all embrace our differences, respect our diversity and show our solidarity as we commemorate the 59th year of our independence.

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