By Izzud deen Redzuan
The ‘Merdeka’ day is coming. This is the time to show our appreciations to our country’s independence and be grateful for the peaceful environment that continues to exist for us to enjoy living.
Malaysians are aware that the months of August and September significantly marked the independence of the country and also the time when Sabah and Sarawak joined the Malaysian federation.
We should call the ‘Merdeka Day’ celebrations as the period for building unity.
In fact, if we look into local Malaysians’ identity account, we comprise diverse ethnicity, cultural and religious groups that strive to cooperate with each other for the betterment of the country.
Why do we need to foster greater bonds among us? The answer is nationalism.
Nationalism is the sense of belonging by the people who express their loyalty to the territory and passionately devote themselves towards prosperity of the country and the welfare of the people regardless of their cultural backgrounds.
The absence of this sense among Malaysians would only bring disadvantage to our society and the country’s development where racism, discrimination and fractionalisation breed to bring about destruction to our society.
Consequently, it is vital for each family member to nurture the beauty of nationalism and good values at their early age. As the Malay proverb says, ‘Melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya’.
I believe that Malaysians do not want a repeat of racial tensions like we had during the May 13, 1969 incident.
Accordingly, the past should serve as a reminder that racial and religious harmony is not to be taken for granted. Inter-racial relations between different groups need to be carefully nurtured and protected to prevent another tragic episode in Malaysia’s history.
Social activist, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, once said, “Each initiative towards unity and harmony, no matter how small, counts as it will make a positive difference in our multicultural society.”
We need to embrace diversity and always remember to look beyond skin colour, cultural background, race or creed as our multi-ethnic society is here to stay.
This is the basic principles of coexistence and tolerance – the basis for building mutually acceptable relationships between highly diverse communities within a larger society.
Through acceptance among us, only then we can unite and proudly say “I’m a Malaysian”.
The closest example is the Olympic Games. The athletes regardless of their race and religion have a mission – to make Malaysia known and proud at world stage. The championship is shared and hailed together among Malaysians. It’s a part of our history.***
Photo of Adib Rawi Yahya