THE nation celebrates Malaysia day on September 16 every year to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian Federation on the same date in 1963. The event saw the union of Sabah Sarawak and Singapore. Singapore eventually separated from Malaysia on August 9, 1965.
The significance of this event was the vision and intention of our first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman to strengthen Malaya for the sake of political stability and security in the context of the Communist threat that was engulfing Southeast Asia.
The very intention of strengthening the state to safeguard a young nation from foreign threats was a major moral decision that Tunku made. This was to serve the common good of the nation.
Fast forward today, we see a Malaysian nation that is still struggling with acceptance of diversity, where politically-inclined bigotry on Malay supremacy and Islamist exceptionalism tends to divide Malaysians. Empathy and acceptance are placed on the back burner. Politics has been reduced to self-seeking gains, party-hopping and using race and religion as a conduit to grab power.
Malaysia Day should be an opportune time for Malaysian politicians to take a deep look at their intentions and conscience in politics. Could they follow the steps of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Independence, who saw the value and strength of diversity by reaching out to the Borneo states to ensure the nation is capable of facing threats from external forces? Could Malaysian politicians stop playing the race and religion card so that they could mobilise Malaysians to face the current external threats to Malaysian sovereignty? Could we learn from the richness of multi-ethnic diversity that has its own cultural strengths?
To achieve this end, the nation needs to evolve from unity to solidarity where common humanity transcends the limitation of unity. There is a need for egalitarian social bonds with less emphasis on ethnic identity.
Are Malaysian politicians prepared for this challenge? To meet this end, Malaysian politicians should reflect on their real intentions in politics with the youth being in the forefront in creating a society rooted in solidarity.
Malaysia Day should be a time to build national solidarity. – September 15, 2020.
* Ronald Benjamin reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.