All set: Participants of the National Day parade rehearsing at Dataran Merdeka.
PETALING JAYA: We should revisit the spirit of 1957 as we celebrate our 57th Independence, say groups.
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) chief operating officer Tricia Yeoh said the proclamation of Independence reflected upon the vision that our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, had for Malaysia – a democratic state founded upon the principles of liberty and justice, and seeking to uphold peace and harmony.
“These principles seem to be lost today amid calls from individuals and (fringe) organisations seeking instead to uphold suspicion, animosity and unhealthy discord between Malaysians.
“This Merdeka, we should revisit the spirit that values basic individual freedom, justice for all Malaysians alike and ultimately the peace and goodwill shared among us. We should refute any efforts to rob us of these values,” she said.
Azrul Mohd Khalib, convener of Malaysians for Malaysia, said that back in 1957, people believed in sharing the nation.
“It’s been 57 years of Merdeka and 51 years of Malaysia. We need to once again believe in a shared future and a shared destiny together. Malaysia is home to ALL of us.”
Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates, said we need to remind ourselves of the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and do our best to uphold it to fight the growing extremism in the country that is threatening our unity.
“This was very clear in the minds of our founding fathers, but unfortunately, of late, it is faced with some issues. We need to address three issues. One is to avoid wrong interpretation, for example that Malaysia is an Islamic state when it is not.
“We also need to scrutinise the laws and enactment that derogate the Constitution and amend them accordingly such as the powers of state religious authorities on people of different faiths. We also need to prevent the rewriting of the Constitution through back channels, such as ideas on absolute monarchy.”
We need to stand back and see what Malaysia is about – diversity and moderation, said Yana Rizal, the programme coordinator of Projek Dialog, a social discourse project which promotes healthy debate and understanding among the diverse communities in Malaysia.
“Back during the pre-Merdeka era, we were drawn together because of our strong passion for Independence. Now after more than 50 years together, we might have lost our way and maybe we are resting on our laurels a bit. Suddenly, non-issues or small issues become big issues. We need to find a way to re-connect and re-ignite the love we had.”
She added that no one is born a “racist”, they are conditioned socially.