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We were truly 1Malaysia during Tunku’s time
Published on: Sunday, March 25, 2018

By Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye
FEB 8 would have been the 115th birthday of our nation’s Bapa Kemerdekaan (Father of Indepen­dence) Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

It is unfortunate that the day went by without any mention of it or any significant event to mark it.

By right, the Government should have commemorated the occasion. The entire nation should have paid a glowing tribute to our Father of Independence who left a legacy of unity and moderation for all to emulate.

The legacy of Tunku has touched the hearts of many, young and old alike, from different racial and religious backgrounds all over the nation.

I still remember vividly some of this great statesman’s outstanding remarks when he was prime minister.

Tunku should not only be remembered by Malaysians as a founding father of our beloved nation but also for his simplicity, sincerity, integrity, strong sense of patriotism and his unwavering stand on harmony and unity in a multiracial nation.

The values he stood for were exemplary and his ways were an inspiration for all Malaysians who strove for a united Malaysian nation.

In recognition of Tunku’s legacy, all Malaysians must rededicate themselves to work towards national unity though “mutual respect of each other’s rights and feelings, religion, customs and habits, for in diversity we can find real unity”.

If Malaysians, and in particular politicians, are able to put into practice Tunku’s words of wisdom, Malaysia would be a more harmonious and peaceful nation.

Looking at the present scenario, the nation has yet to be united even though it has enjoyed six decades of independence.

From the 70s to the late 90s, the spirit of friendship and neighbourliness was the way of life.

We played, studied and visited each other with no worries and qualms of hurting each other with our actions.

Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and other festivities were celebrations for all. We were truly Malaysian in every sense.

But today our nation has become polarised along the line of race and religion.

All religions encourage their followers to do good, be courteous, humble, honest, respectful, and not to hurt one another even unintentionally. We have, unfortunately, deviated far from these virtues.

Crime, social behaviour, politics, education, health, laws and even festivities have been infused with the element of race and religion from negative perspectives.

At every opportunity, an incident is viewed from a racial or religious angle.

Malaysia today is going through a very critical phase in its existence in view of the continuous articulation of extreme views by several quarters.

Speaking ill of and casting aspersions on notable Malaysians including entrepreneurs who had contributed much to the progress of our country is most undesirable and will not help to forge unity.

In these challenging times, it is improper for anyone or anybody to make provocative and incendiary statements against any ethnic group which can lead to conflict or racial tension.

This is not the time to incite hatred through hate speeches. On the contrary, we need to go back to the 1957 Merdeka Spirit and work towards genuine reconciliation and racial and religious harmony.

For those who persist in making incendiary statements and instigate racial and religious tension, our law enforcement agency should act against them without fear or favour, and 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 polarisation.

Politicising every issue and problem will not benefit the nation. We need to be sincere in finding solutions to the challenges we are currently facing.

Malaysians are disappointed and even disenchanted when certain politicians play the race card to gain popularity.

What is even more disturbing is the emergence of race-based politics and the playing-up of racial issues unashamedly by some without realising the consequences of their actions.

This is the time for all level-headed patriotic Malaysians irrespective of race to stand up and be counted in furthering the cause of harmony and moderation.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

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