PETALING JAYA: Young Malaysians can be taught to not look through race-coloured lenses with the introduction of cross-cultural subjects at schools and educational institutions, said 1Malaysia Foundation Trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).
He added that children should be allowed to grow together so they are able to get to know, understand and appreciate peers of different racial and religious backgrounds.
"To prevent Malaysians from drifting apart, it is the people of all races who must be concerned about the future of the nation and be prepared to integrate, beginning from a young age.
"The younger generation must be made aware of the importance of unity, social cohesion and reconciliation as it is the cornerstone of the nation's success and development.
"As students are the future leaders of the nation, it is imperative that they forge closer relations despite differences in race, culture and religion," he said in a statement on Sunday.
Lee was responding to the call made by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who said that cross-cultural education should be emphasised in vernacular, religious and national schools to strengthen unity.
Lee said it had been observed that interaction between students of different ethnicities, cultures and religions at universities was still low.
"Racial polarisation has become a matter of concern to all Malaysians. Unless it is addressed with a sense of urgency, racial polarisation can become a major impediment to national unity and nation-building," he said.
Lee added that parents also have an important responsibility to lead by example and show their children the importance of forging friendships with peers of different racial, cultural and religious backgrounds.