AS we enter another new year, we must create more moments of unity in which people from different cultures and religions can support each other.
Interracial tolerance and harmony can be seen during sporting events and during calamities and accidents when Malaysians help others without considering ethnicity or religion.
However, several incidents this year showed how fragile our interracial harmony is – so much so that even a small matter could turn into a spark that creates racial tension.
I hope these incidents will remind all Malaysians to tread very carefully in handling racial or religious issues as there will always be those who exploit them for their own benefit.
Next year, we should focus on building up harmony and unity among all races; perhaps more programmes could be held to encourage interaction across ethnic and religious boundaries.
The country should not only be safe from terrorism, crime and violence but also from problems and conflicts caused by racial or religious hatred. As I’ve mentioned many times before, the most urgent task of all Malaysians irrespective of race, religion and political affiliation is to ensure racial and religious harmony in our beloved nation.
Everyone should be exposed to the Rukun Negara (the five National Principles) as well as the country’s history so that we can understand and respect the rights, beliefs and practices of Malaysians from various religious and ethnic backgrounds.
We need to remember that tolerance and respect among ethnic groups, as outlined in the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara, are the keys to peace and harmony in a multiracial and multi-religious country like Malaysia.
As 2018 comes to an end, I hope all Malaysians can discard negativity and hatred, and make unity and interracial harmony our new year resolution. We must also look beyond our own ethnic origin and identify ourselves first and last as Malaysian while striving for a truly united nation.
Happy New Year to all Malaysians, and let’s us pray together for a safer and united Malaysia.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Malaysian Unity Foundation