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Friday September 17, 2010

Accept and celebrate diversity, says minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Society has to undergo behavioural changes to achieve the ideals of 1Malaysia, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala.

He said it was important for Malaysians to move from tolerating to accepting other races and religions, and eventually celebrating diversity.

“Unity in diversity and inclusiveness form the basis of 1Malaysia,” he said.

To illustrate his point, Idris cited black football stars John Barnes of England and Ruud Gullit of the Netherlands.

“John Barnes was a good player but England fans did not put him on a pedestal as a hero. Look at how fans in Holland treated Ruud Gullit? They celebrated him. That is more than just acceptance,” he said in his speech at the National Congress on Integrity organised by UCSI University yesterday.

Young reveller: Maslianah Abdullah, six, sitting on the shoulder of her uncle Mohd Ridzuan Ishak, 30, of Pulau Pinang at Padang Merdeka last night.

Jala said racial and religious issues were “polarities to be managed and not problems to be solved”.

“If you look at race and religious issues and you ‘mis-file’ them as a problem to be solved, you will end up like Hitler or Bosnia where ethnic cleansing took place,” he said.

He stressed that polarities were not to be solved but managed through “give and take”.

Jala pointed out that there were more polarities in peninsular Malaysia than in Sabah and Sarawak.

“In Miri, even mosques and churches are built side by side. Sabah has had Chief Ministers from different ethnicities – Chinese, Kadazan, Bajau and Murut,” he said.

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