KOTA KINABALU: Schools are the ideal places to promote racial integration and teachers and parents have been urged to play their roles to help out in this regard.
Parents must encourage their children to mix with others of different races so that they can better understand one another’s religion, culture and way of life and in the process helps to build racial integration.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, the trustee of the 1Malaysia Foundation, stressed this in a press statement yesterday.
He pointed out conscious and sustained efforts must be made to break the racial divide, if there is any, among students of diverse races so as to overcome the problem of racial polarization in schools.
“At the start of a new year school year with more than 500,000 kids entering primary schools all over the country, my thoughts are with them as they make up our future generation of leaders who can play a decisive role in terms of building unity in our multi-racial Malaysia.
“As these pupils are in the classrooms, they must be completely unconscious of the fact that the person sitting next to him or her is of another race or religion. They have to be colour blind. They must be aware of only one thing that he or she is their friend.
“With each passing day I am more convinced that our youngsters must break down the racial divide, reach out and make friends with those from other ethnic groups.
“Malaysians of different races must strive to strengthen racial integration which is vital for national unity.
“In all events ranging from sports to co-curricular activities, practical efforts must be made to bring our young people together so that they can interact with one another,” he said.
According to Lee, today’s students are our future leaders. Upon their shoulders lie the responsibility of building a united Malaysian nation with a common and shared destiny for all.
The inculcation of proper values and noble objectives in relation to unity should begin in the primary schools so that we can produce a future generation of Malaysians who are fully conscious of their responsibilities towards nation-building.
“We must take all possible steps to ensure that our system of preuniversity education does not contribute towards the unhealthy polarization in our university campuses.
“This requires our schools, colleges and private educational institutions to take conscious efforts to prevent racial polarization at their respective levels.
“We have to go back to basics and in this regard it is the Rukunegara and its five principles – Belief in God, Loyalty to King and Country, Upholding the Constitution, Rule of Law and Good Behaviour and Morality – which is the guilding light for building a united Malaysia.
“Unity and harmony must be a part of our culture and there must be more opportunities for people of diverse races to meet and forge closer friendship and understanding for the sake of our nation’s future,” he added.