TAPAH: Umno members must embrace cross-cultural communication and understand the needs of other races, said Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic).
The Umno vice-president said this was vital as the party prepared for the upcoming general election.
He added that Barisan Nasional component parties need to understand that Malaysia has always been a plural society and should never be compartmentalised.
"When the British colonised Malaysia, they implemented the 'divide and rule' strategy. But when we gained independence, we decided on power sharing.
"We should not see this 'divide and rule' practice in this country again,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.
"That should not happen at all. Take Tapah for example, where the MP is from MIC and its assemblymen are from MCA and Umno.
"They work well together and there are no differences between them," he told Tapah Umno delegates at its division meeting launch in Dewan Merdeka here on Sunday.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also said the country's plural nature should be defended.
"Umno, as the backbone of Barisan Nasional, has to be at the forefront of cross-cultural communication.
"When we start doing so, other component parties will follow. We have to understand the sentiments of every race in this country,” he said.
He noted that mutual respect between races was important.
"When I was doing my degree, I took up Mandarin, Chinese History and Literature subjects. For my Masters thesis, I wrote about cross-cultural communication in Malaysia.
"It is important for us to communicate and understand other races," he said.