WE MALAYSIANS are known for our tolerance, moderation and generosity, celebrating different festivities and beliefs. These were the values I was taught as a young Kelabit boy growing up in Bario, Sarawak.
We always received with gratitude, and had a seemingly quiet resilience.
These traits made me realise that to achieve success, I had to pursue the “game of the impossible”, and the only way I could win was through education and relentless pursuit.
I am thankful for Malaysia’s inclusive education system. This is how a boy stepped out of one of the most remote areas in Malaysia into the corridors of the Prime Minister’s Department.
Education is the key to a better future. We make this possible by enabling our youth to shape their own paths. We have no shortage of study options, from pre-school to the tertiary level where students from all backgrounds are welcomed.
This inclusiveness was emboldened in the National Transformation Programme launched by our Prime Minister in 2010, which applies inclusivity throughout its initiatives. These efforts spurred Malaysia to high income and developed status in a sustainable, inclusive and prudent manner. For the first time in more than 20 years, in 2016, we broke through the middle-income trap.
We are also reaping the benefits of our fiscal policies implemented over the last seven years.
Malaysia has taken the road less travelled — a decision to curb our borrowing and diversify our economy. This meant implementing tough but necessary policies for sustainable growth that put the country in a better fiscal position in the long-run.
Reflecting on the last seven years, we can enjoy the outcome of the promises committed by the Government. The MRT is now in motion, transporting an average of 100,000 commuters daily.
From a macroeconomic perspective, our GDP expanded 5.8% in the second quarter of 2017, faster than most economists had forecast.
The world has taken interest in our transformation — Oman, Tanzania, India, Russia, Botswana and Nepal are adopting our model of economic diversification and sustainable growth.
This sustainable growth is only possible if everyone is included.
For years, our Prime Minister has insisted that the cornerstone of our transformation is creating better outcomes for those living outside urban areas.
We understood that our only way forward is ensuring everyone is part of this transformation. This is why, since 2010, our transformation has uplifted 6.2 million rural folk.
To continuously drive our transformation, we need to return to our intrinsic values as Malaysians — we must move from mere tolerance to acceptance of differences in opinions and celebrate our nation’s success as a whole.
We are a melting pot of cultures and beliefs. To take these polarities and insist that only some of us are correct, will encourage disunity.
In a country as diverse as Malaysia, we do not solve polarities, but manage them!
Our intrinsic character has always been one of moderation. Let us all embrace this. We cannot afford campaigns that almost seem bent on division and inciting hate. It is time for us to recall that this country was borne out of mutual tolerance and respect.
Divisiveness will undo the hard work we have done to shape our nation’s story, enrich our heritage, and give meaning to our founding values.
Despite our differences, we are one people; Malaysians all and a part of something bigger than ourselves.
This Malaysia Day, let’s count our blessings. No matter our circumstances, we all have something to be grateful for.
Maybe it’s good health, a new addition to the family, or a child taking the next step toward their future. Maybe it’s a new job, or long overdue promotion. Maybe it’s something as simple, and as important, as the chance to spend time with the people who matter most.
I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Malaysia Day, surrounded by loved ones. May we all play our own part in Malaysia’s story, and write another chapter future generations can be proud of!