Syabas! We finally ended our 15-year winless drought against Indonesia at the hostile Gelora Bung Karno Stadium
It was a Team Malaysia effort. It was a muhibbah – Indians, Chinese, Malays and Lain-lain – squad that won.
The win is the best example of a united Malaysia of all races coming together to defeat our biggest football rival.
If Malaysian coach Tan Cheng Hoe had a boycott X race policy, he would have selected only a particular race to play.
But he didn’t.
He picked the best Malaysian – regardless of race – team to play against our adversary in football.
The victory was the good news Malaysians badly needed amid the calls for a boycott of non-Muslim products.
Malaysia is a multiracial and multi-religious country, and Malaysians cannot afford to boycott anyone.
Any boycott is divisive. It pits one party against the other.
The Cabinet has rejected this narrow stand. Instead, it is backing the growing calls to support Buy Malaysian Goods.
Just like the Malaysian coach who selected his players irrespective of their race, Malaysians should not segregate Malaysian-made goods by the race or religion of the manufacturer.
We should not put a race or religion to the Malaysian brand. Malaysia is not built by one race but by all Malaysians, from the Iban along Sungai Rejang to the Temuan along Sungai Pahang.
All the races in Malaysia have contributed to the development of the country. No single race can claim otherwise.
In a global world, the enemy is not our fellow Malaysians.
We are on the same team.
In the end, Malaysia would lose if this happened. The boycott, as the Cabinet noted, would affect the peace and well-being of this nation.
We have to see beyond our community, beyond our country.
Our economic “fight” is with our neighbours – Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand – and the rest of the world. If we get lost in our internal squabble, we might one day find ourselves lagging behind these countries, stuck in a self-imposed rut while they grow and prosper.
In our latest misunderstanding with Indonesia, which was triggered by a careless remark by a Malaysian businessman over Gojek, the Indonesian protesters called for a boycott of Malaysian products. In defence of our national pride, some have called for a counter-boycott of Indonesian goods.
Even then, these boycotts are futile – they will only cost both Indonesia and Malaysia dearly if follow through to its ugly end.
Ultimately, Brand Malaysia is not just about the products. It is also a showcase of how Malaysia has progressed since its formation in 1963.
We have lived as a community with mutual understanding of one another’s race and religion. Brand Malaysia binds us together as a nation.
We should continue to use Brand Malaysia as our strength to get us together to develop our new Malaysia.
Our national anthem, Negaraku, states it clearly: Rakyat hidup, bersatu dan maju (The people living united and prosperously).
Like how we are proud that we defeated Indonesia on that historic Thursday night, we should also be proud of Brand Malaysia.
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