Diversity and food a shared love among Malaysians

PETALING JAYA: Gifted. Blessed. Thankful. Loved.

These are some of the many responses we received from Malaysians when asked what Malaysia Day means to them – the day that commemorates the establishment of Malaysia, when all states were united as one country.

They represent the psyche of Malaysians who are filled with unwavering love, pride and hope for the nation’s future.

Mohd Safwan Sapar, 25, a mechanical engineer from Sabah, is immensely grateful for being able to live in a beautiful, multiracial society that is rich in diversity and culture.

All for one: Mohd Safwan, Siow and Joedansen share what Malaysia Day means to them.All for one: Mohd Safwan, Siow and Joedansen share what Malaysia Day means to them.

“Growing up in Sabah, I have lived most of my life mingling with many friends from different ethnic groups and religions.

“We live in a harmonious society filled with love and respect for each other,” he said.

The Kedayan loves how everyone can get along with each other despite their different backgrounds, beliefs and religions. What ties everyone together is none other than their common love for Malaysian food.

“The best part above everything else is how our love for food unites all Malaysians! My favourite dish is Nasi Kerabu, which I first tried when visiting a Kelantanese friend’s house. The rich flavours in the dish made me fall in love with it,” he said.

Brenda Siow, 24, an accountant from Selangor, loves the country for its diversity in culture, race, and most importantly, food.

Her love for Malaysian kuih stems from her parents, who also share her love for food, including steamed Malay cakes, pisang goreng, masala chai, kuih tayap and kek lapis Sarawak.

Her yearly celebrations are never without a feast of Malaysian treats. This year, she would opt to take away food from nearby food stalls and indulge in a quiet but simple celebration at home with her family.

Joedansen Delon, 22, a Bidayuh student from Sarawak, cherishes the country for its spirit of unity, peace and harmony among the people.

“I love Malaysia because I can relish every moment knowing that independence was achieved for the greater good of the people.

“As a Malaysian, I am proud to live in a community filled with love where race and ethnic groupings are not the primary focus.

To Joedansen, Malaysia Day is a historic day of the nation becoming one.

“The union of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak that created Malaysia means a lot to Malaysians just like me, as it shows how our people can create a better and stronger nation that has continued to improve over the years.

The Sarawakian hopes the spirit of unity among Malaysians remains stronger than ever, especially during tough times.

“Even though the seas may get rough, the winds will always blow our sails towards a better future,” Joedansen added.

For 44-year-old Mohd Azlan Shahul Hamid, a businessman from Selangor, his life in Malaysia is indeed a gifted one.

“I feel blessed to be born in a unique country, with so much diversity in culture, race, religion, food and more.

“Growing up here with friends from so many ethnicities has been a fun and enjoyable experience.

“Celebrating in the ‘new norm’ has its perks – being able to bond with our immediate family members. My wife (a teacher) used to have programmes at school all morning and afternoon, and I would be out for work as well.

“But now we get to spend the entire day at home together, which is a luxury we did not have,” he said.

Living in a mixed community, Azlan is grateful for his neighbours and describes them as his best friends.

“I have Indian neighbours on my right and Chinese neighbours on my left. The trust we have is strong regardless of our race.

“We always rely on each other in case of emergencies, and I can always count on my neighbours whenever I used to leave the house for long periods for work,” he added.

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