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Wednesday February 22, 2012

Patriotism is expressed in many ways

I REFER to “Patriotism not in one’s language” (The Star, Feb 19). I agree with Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong that the patriotism of those who study in a vernacular school should not be questioned.

Patriotism is a feeling of love and devotion to our country, and as in all other matters of feelings, it is expressed in many different ways by individuals.

A person can have sentiments for his ethnicity, choice of language, culture, religion or other personal preferences and yet be very loyal and devoted to a nation.

It would be a misconception to expect someone to conform to a set of rigid rules of behaviour and thoughts in order to be regarded as patriotic.

We would be stifling the healthy growth of a nation if we attempt to draw subjective parameters to define a person’s choices.

Countries around the world are progressing by allowing different ethnic groups to retain their culture, tradition and languages and yet fit into the larger framework of the nation.

In Europe and America and even over here, we can see many examples of migrants of first or later generations who act admirably and make great contributions to the nation.

General Collin Powell, the former American Chief of Staff, is the son of a Jamaican immigrant. The first men on the voyage to the moon remembered the countries of their forefathers. The ethnicity or memory of these men did not make them less patriotic.

While on a trip in India, I was surprised at the public relations work done by Malaysian tourists who had spoken up so proudly

of our country and extolled its achievements, much to the amazement of many Indians I met.

When I arrived back at our airport it was another pleasant scene to see a group of Malaysian youths returning from India singing a ditty in praise of our country.

These people regard this country as their motherland although they may have links to the land of their forefathers.

Let’s stop making an issue of patriotism when we cannot read what is in the mind of the next person.

KAY ARR,
George Town.

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