A new dawn, rainbows after long thunderstorms, augur well for the country

0

Ang Lai Soon

FOR the people in this country, it seems that after the extraordinarily long period of thunderstorms and torrential rains, the sighting of rainbows in the clouds, one of mother nature’s most magnificent and spectacular optical phenomena, an universal symbol of inspiration, encouragement, hope, promise, and which lift our human spirits, must be a Divine Blessing. A new Dawn augurs well for us.

Today, it seems that we live in a world sadly and much divided by concepts of race, religion, ideology and possibly by the most fundamental divisive force of the entire human race – self-interest.

Being self-centred is doing a lot of harm to the family, the society and the country at large. We should consider changing for the better after the rainbows.

This country may not be playing a major role on the world stage just yet, but in some ways we have the good fortune to be an example to the challenging world at large.

We are an ethnically-diverse nation with a rich history of immigration leading to a complex society, ranging from urbanised city dwellers to subsistence farmers and forest dwellers. Although three major ethnic groups, whom some eminent historians claim are earlier migrants, dominate in numbers, we encompass a multiplicity of peoples.

It cannot be denied entirely that there are sometimes latent tensions, as in any plural society over relative social status, differing levels of opportunity, and comparative political influence. Here in this country, we live in relative peace and harmony. It sets an example for those parts across the world, with year-round conflicts now riven by differences, to follow. It is, indeed, an achievement to be proud of and should be celebrated by all at this Christmas and at all major national festivals. Celebration does not mean a party of enjoyment with huge expenses incurred when many are struggling to feed the family, and a major part of the country is flooded.

Basically, we are also a multi-lingual nation with Bahasa Malaysia as the national language. Our international trade and overseas connections benefit from the wide use of other languages such as Chinese and English whilst local languages such as Iban, Kenyah, Kayan and Bidayuh in Sarawak, Kadazan in Sabah, and the Aboriginal or Asli languages spoken by the Orang Asli in Malaya, bond their communities.

Our diversity of languages, so often a divisive force in other parts of this difficult and troubled world, is a strong bond both within our communities and with the world in general. This is Peace and Goodwill in action that warrants a celebration.

We are also a nation of many religious and cultural beliefs in addition to Islam. Our Constitution guarantees Freedom of Worship, be it Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Confucianism, Animism, Sikhism, or Taoism. As a nation, we are recognised as being tolerant to the religious beliefs of our fellow citizens, eschewing the intolerance shown so often in other parts of the much troubled world. This is another achievement which we should be proud of.

Religious militancy and intolerance in this uncertain world has a long destructive history extending to the present day. Our authority has shown from time to time that this will not be tolerated in this country. This protection of our citizens against the ravages experienced elsewhere of rampant religious intolerance and its divisive force is highly commendable, giving Peace precedence over War and Goodwill over Intolerance. Once again, the concepts of Peace and Goodwill in action have resulted in the peace and prosperity which we are all enjoying, though interrupted by the global economic downturn starting some years ago, and the present Pandemic. The wars against Coronavirus and The Climate Change are far from over yet.

That all Malaysians are able to celebrate Christmas, Hari Raya, Lunar New Year, Gawai Dayak, Deepavali, Baha’i and Buddhist festivals peacefully and in a civilised manner is a reflection of the wisdom and maturity of all ethnic and religious groups in this multi-racial country. This most significant aspect of this country has made it a comparatively peaceful one in a region where unrest, turmoil and violence is a way of life. For them we pray that they learn to put aside self-interest and strive to achieve peace and harmony that they are looking for.

Let us all give thanks this festive season and everyday for this most gracious gift which has allowed us to live in peace and harmony in this rather uncertain and tumultuous world.

Let’s celebrate and give thanks this Christmas, hopefully, for the rainbow of our life …of hope, of optimism, of fairness and of happiness. Never look back, but just look forward to the sunshine after the storms and the rainbows.

May I wish you all a Merry Christmas wherever you may be.