KUALA LUMPUR: Strong national cohesion can protect Malaysia against external threats to its prosperity, says Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.
The member of the Economic Action Council said national cohesion was not about agreeing with each other but uniting to be resilient against external forces.
“The external environment is volatile with civil unrest, trade disputes and security threats.
“We must be ready to face anything, ” she said in her keynote address at the 13th Malaysian Student Leaders’ Summit 2019 organised by the United Kingdom Eire Council for Malaysian Students here.
The former international trade and industry minister said while people could do little about global events, they could unite to support measures that could reduce the negative impact on the country.
Rafidah also said too much focus on differences between the country’s various races and religions would eventually bring it down.
“Viewing race and religion from a narrow, parochial and xenophobic perspective can limit national unity, peace and understanding.
“It can also distort policy formulation and implementation.
“For example, when race and religion drive politics, you can be sure its goals are not what we want.”Rafidah added that every Malaysian was a stakeholder in the country’s success and thus could not afford to see it ruined by armchair critics.
“Negative criticism about the country posted on social media can be destructive.
“Sometimes it is difficult to find one good, value-adding critique because everyone just starts condemning, irritating people and making others upset, ” she said.
Rafidah said the government welcomed constructive critique, adding that she used to welcome such criticism when she was a minister.
She also warned of irresponsible social media usage, where venomous words online could spark tension and bring destruction to the country.
“Destruction can not only be caused by nuclear bombs but also by the poisoning of minds and by weakening motivation.
“Please do not use social media to destroy your own country.
“Do not let Malaysia be part of this negative trend, ” she said.