KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should not take inter-racial and inter-religious harmony for granted, even though ethnic relations in the country are generally satisfactory, emphasised social activist and 1Malaysia Foundation trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
Malaysians of different ethnic origins must be always conscious of the need to have mutual respect for one another and conscious of the sensitivities of our respective religions and cultures, he said.
“Generally, people are taking unity for granted and this is not a healthy development, for in a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural country like Malaysia continuous efforts must be made by all Malaysians to nurture and reinforce unity,” said Lee in his Malaysia Day message sent to Bernama yesterday.
He explained that unity must first start with the individual and when there is unity in a person’s thoughts, emotions and actions, it will be reflected in how they treat others.
He said unity was of paramount importance in nation building and in commemoration of the 49th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia on Sept 16, it was only appropriate to focus on building and strengthening unity among the population.
He further added that it was occasions such as Malaysia Day that enabled Malaysians to rekindle their patriotism which was most crucial in the building of unity.
“As we commemorate Malaysia Day, let us bring Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsula Malaysia closer together in the spirit of integration and 1Malaysia,” he said.
Sabah and Sarawak were practical and visible examples of unity in diversity where Malaysians of diverse ethnic groups were able to live together in the spirit of 1Malaysia, Lee noted.
“I always believe that being a Malaysian does not make anyone less a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban etc.
“Malaysians should be proud to identify themselves as Malaysians first, for such identification fosters patriotism and develops unity,” said Lee. — Bernama