AS we celebrate the 58th year of the birth of Malaysia, it is important that we reflect on matters such as where we were then, where we are now, and where we are heading.We all know where we were and what life was like in the early days of Malaysia. We had our initial challenges, but we all looked ahead with hope in our minds and love in our hearts for our beloved country.
We also know where we are now. Our collective challenges have increased by leaps and bounds principally by the healthcare crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And then there is the issue of racial polarisation and religious bigotry. These pose serious challenges to the concept of unity in diversity, which has been our pride, strength and rallying call in the past.
The shifting sands in politics has put the rakyat in a conundrum. After the last general election, we thought we knew where we as a nation were headed. Now, we are not so sure.
Economic uncertainty is also a prevailing issue. It’s no exaggeration to say that never before in our history have we had to face so many challenges on so many fronts at the same time.
It looks like these challenges are all coming to us on horseback and only going away on foot.
We have to remind ourselves that we have faced critical problems in the past – the Emergency, Confrontation, race riots and financial crises – but we have been able to overcome them.
Together, we have achieved a lot of progress and milestones in various fields in the past.
We have always identified ourselves as Malaysians first. Being Malaysian first does not make a person less Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban, Bidayuh and etc. We should all proudly identify ourselves first as Malaysian.
We must oppose religious bigotry and racial extremism, and instead stand up for moderation. We need to appreciate the concept of unity in diversity where everyone accepts the uniqueness of the others so that we can live together in mutual respect and trust.
The vision to build Malaysia into a fully developed nation according to our own mould must also be based on mutual understanding and unity.
For this year’s Malaysia Day, we must rekindle the spirit of Rukun Negara to renew our sense of love for the nation and help support the efforts to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
In this, there is light at the end of the tunnel because of initiatives by the government for bipartisanship. A start has been made for the government and opposition to work together to find quick and workable solutions for the challenges facing the people.
But it still remains to be seen how the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CSA) will serve the primary objectives without sacrificing the interest of the rakyat.
To achieve this, there must be timely, comprehensive and consistent interaction with the people. Free and regular public communication is the key.
We need maximum coverage of parliamentary proceedings by all the media because the discussions, debates and decisions have a direct impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people.
One of the cardinal principles of parliamentary democracy is that the voters must be fully and regularly informed of the actions and decisions of their elected representatives and whether or not they are consistent with their election promises.
Let’s aim high. Let’s not only be satisfied with the low-hanging fruits.
Together we can. Together we must.
Happy Malaysia Day.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Malaysia Unity Foundation