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Manifesting the Malaysian spirit

  • Accommodativeness, diversity and unity are the core elements of Malaysia Day, the ammunition that prompts the nation forward.

Sin Chew Daily

September 16 is Malaysia Day. On this day 54 years ago, Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore formed the Federation of Malaysia to begin the young nation's tortuous journey in this world.

This day was previously overlooked by many Malaysians, in particular those in West Malaysia. By comparison, we are much more familiar with the August 31 Merdeka Day.

On August 31, 1957, the country's founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman chanted "Merdeka" thrice to mark the emancipation of Malaya from the yokes of colonization to become an independent sovereign state.

However, for people in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, September 16 is far more significant than August 31, and such perceptional difference subsequently sparked contentions over whether the country's National Day should be on August 31 or September 16.

The 2008 general elections marked a watershed in the country's politics, and following the drastic change in the political landscape of peninsular Malaysia, the two states in East Malaysia gained in political influences and became a key factor that would dictate the country's power play.

As such, voices from East Malaysia gained prominence and the states began to inch closer to the center of national politics.

Against such a backdrop, the government announced that September 16 Malaysia Day would be made a national public holiday.

Malaysia Day is not only for East Malaysia but is an important day for the whole nation that transcends geographical space, ethnicity and religion.

It is more than just another public holiday but one that carries a deeper significance and represents the manifestation and continuation of the Malaysian spirit.

As a national symbol, Malaysia Day carries on its back the country's diverse and moderate characteristics, calling Malaysians of all races to cooperate and stay united in manifesting our Malaysian spirit.

Undeniably, social polarization has become increasingly serious in recent years as a result of drastic political changes taking place in the country, giving rise to unprecedented confrontation at the expense of our accommodativeness, social harmony and national unity.

The accommodating and diversified Malaysian spirit should prevent the situation from worsening and dissolve the confrontation while opening up our scopes of vision.

The government should give Malaysia Day more substance and promote the significance of this day among the people so that it will become a symbol that expedites national integration and solidarity instead of being just another public holiday for people to rest and rejoice.

Accommodativeness, diversity and unity are the core elements of Malaysia Day, the ammunition that prompts the nation forward.

It is hoped that on this meaningful day all Malaysians regardless of race, religion and political affiliation will lay down their prejudices and unite under the Jalur Gemilang flag to showcase our accommodativeness and diversity to the world.


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