WONG Chun Wai has as usual in his latest column, “Moderates stand up” (Sunday Star, June 14), stressed the need for the voices of moderation to be heard and that the silent majority cannot afford to be quiet if they value the kind of society they live in.
The latest farce over the attire of Suzanna G. L. Tan at the Road Transport Department and now our sports heroine Farah Ann Abdul Hadi is a case in point. Instead of being applauded for her brilliant performance at the SEA Games, which brought pride and honour to Malaysia, she was ridiculously criticised for exposing her aurat or for not covering up.
With due respect for all religious teachings, we must be mature enough to distinguish between morality and sportsmanship. We must not allow our minds to be clouded to the extent that we become famous internationally for the wrong reasons.
1Malaysia Foundation today calls on all Malaysians to be resolute and stand firm for diversity and moderation as a way towards reducing controversies and conflicts, and building a strong foundation of unity in our multi-racial nation.
Unity is a priceless gift that must be preserved and cherished by all Malaysians in a multi-racial country like Malaysia.
To me, unity among the diverse races, religions and cultures is our nation’s biggest challenge – the challenge that is key to our very survival.
Racial and religious polarisation is the biggest obstacle to national unity and it should be the responsibility of all Malaysians to reject such polarisation in whatever form.
In this regard, policy makers, planners and implementers have to be committed to the principle that their thoughts and deeds would always be guided by moderation and governed by the aims and objectives of the Rukunegara and the sacrosanctity of the Federal Constitution.
Looking at the present scenario today, our nation, particularly in peninsular Malaysia, appears to be more and more polarised along the lines of race and religion despite five decades of independence.
The spirit of friendship, neighbourliness and trust based on sharing and respecting each other regardless of social, economic and religious backgrounds that we experienced in the 70s till the late 90s appear to be diminishing day by day.
Crime, social issues, education, politics, etc are often infused with the element of race and religion, followed by the articulation of extreme and insensitive remarks by several quarters without due regard to the sensitivities of another’s race and religion.
The immediate task for all Malaysians today is to stand up and be counted to check the surge of extremism and religious bigotry.
Action should be taken against those who persist in making incendiary statements and instigate racial and religious tension. If politicians are not able to unite the nation, then it is now time for the people to innovate and take initiatives to break any racial divide that exists and go beyond politics to strive towards unity.
It is the people of all races who must be concerned about the future of our nation and be prepared to integrate, beginning from a young age with the help of the teachers.
The best way for us to take care of this situation is in schools, where children are young and can be moulded into not looking at things through race-coloured lenses.
We need to be able to put our children together and let them grow up together. In play and in the classrooms, our children must be able to know, understand and appreciate their fellow citizens of different skin colours. And the earlier the better. They will soon need to build this nation together.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Trustee 1Malaysia Foundation