Sultan hailed for defending multiculturalism

Daulat Tuanku!: A congratulatory billboard being displayed in Seksyen 52, Petaling Jaya, in conjunction with Sultan Sharafuddin’s 78th birthday celebrations. — CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Leaders from all races have lauded the call by Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah asking Malaysians to defend their constitutional rights, multiculturalist values, moderation and unity.

The Ruler’s advice “reaffirms a historical fact and truth”, said Tawfik Ismail, the son of the country’s second deputy prime minister.

“It is erroneous and insulting to use the word ‘pendatang’ (immigrants) on any citizen.

“In the fight for Independence and the formation of Malaysia, everybody’s support was needed regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.

“The result was that when Independence was achieved, all became Malayans and then Malaysians,” he said in an interview yesterday.

Tawfik was responding to Sultan Sharafuddin’s comment that Malaysia must continue to defend its multicultural values and background, as it remains one of the strengths that unite the country.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Star, the Ruler stressed that Malaysia is a melting pot of various cultures that have been preserved since Independence.

Sultan Sharafuddin noted that the nation’s non-Malay citizens also ceased being “pendatang” after the social contract was agreed upon during Independence in 1957.

However, the Ruler said many still use this term because they are ignorant of this fact.

“I believe they don’t understand the social contract. If we understand the social contract, we will respect each other.

“If the rakyat knew and understood the social contract, they cannot be easily brainwashed, no matter how much politicians bring up race and religion.

“There is no ‘pendatang’ as the Malay Rulers have accepted all, including the non-Malays, as citizens,” said Tuanku.

Moderation advocate and former diplomat Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin said she supported Sultan Sharafuddin’s views, saying the term “pendatang” is insulting to our multicultural society.

“Ignorant people, especially the Malays, use this term to describe the non-Malay races. They forgot that Malays are also ‘pendatang’ in this country.

“The ancestors of most Malays came to Malaya from the various Indonesian islands. Even my ancestors were Bugis from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

“They migrated to Perak in the 19th century. It is high time that we all see ourselves as Malaysians first and not as Chinese, Malays, Indians or Eurasians,” said Noor Farida.

Council of the Justices of Peace Selangor president Datuk Ng Seing Liong thanked Sultan Sharafuddin for “expressing the sentiments of most Malaysians”.

He said all Malaysians should be proud of our multiracial makeup.

“Kudos to Tuanku for saying equivocally that no one race is a ‘pendatang’. We are all happy to live in this beautiful and peaceful country of Malaysia.

“We should also take care of the poor and unfortunate irrespective of race,” he added.

Malaysian Indian Community Transformation Unit (Mitra) Special Task Force chairman Datuk R. Ramanan said Sultan Sharafuddin’s call for Malaysians to strengthen unity and prevent themselves from being influenced by voices exploiting race and religion was “most appropriate”.

“Tuanku’s statement is most reassuring as there are those who have attempted to change the diversity of Malaysia,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The Sungai Buloh MP also supported Sultan Sharafuddin’s call for Malaysians to reject politicians who use race, religion and royalty (3Rs) to divide the people.

“The best way to fight the exploitation of 3R issues is to reject them. Do not encourage them by voting for them, as Tuanku rightly said,” he added.

Ramanan also expressed his gratitude to Sultan Sharafuddin as he regarded the Ruler as having spoken up for all Malaysians.

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