KOTA KINABALU: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has called on Malaysians of all ethnicities and beliefs to work together as one to develop the country.
She also urged the people to avoid behaviour that could jeopardise unity and stability in the country, such as inciting hatred, hurling insults and slandering others for one's own self-interests.
"We want to ensure that the country's development agenda can be realised and the hopes of the people can be fulfilled.
"On this matter, I want to stress that the government has never ignored any races or religions in implementing this agenda," she said in her speech at the National Christmas Open House at Padang Merdeka here on Saturday (Dec 29).
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said the recent budget allocation for religious bodies and schools showed that the government was determined, sincere and committed in protecting the welfare of all Malaysians.
"Let's not harbour envy and jealousy towards another race. We, as Malaysians, have to discard negative behaviour.
"As long as we are united and accept each other, I am confident that Malaysia's future will be harmonious.
Deputy Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said Malaysians must be respectful towards one another and treat diversity as an asset, as well as a unifying factor.
"Malaysians in Sabah have shown high tolerance for each other and frown on those trying to split the unity of the people in the state.
"I believe that this has got to do with the people's way of life in Sabah, and the fact that inter-ethnic and inter-religious marriages have bonded the people together and they now see themselves as one," she said.
Among those present at the celebration were Sabah Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin, his wife Toh Puan Norlidah R.M. Jasni, Federal Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi and Deputy Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.