"A true Malaysian patriot loves Malaysia and all Malaysians".
That is the message Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wants everyone in the country to remember as Malaysia gears up to celebrate its 50th Merdeka Day. Speaking to students at the Youth Patriotism Congress in Putrajaya this morning, Abdullah said Malaysians must hold dear to what had proven to be their greatest strength in their quest for Independence.
The British administration then, he added, had not counted on Malaysia's bid for independence to be successful as the colonial power had been implementing a "divide and rule" policy among the residents here. "But by cooperating with each other, our leaders managed to bring those of different races, cultures and backgrounds together for one purpose and the British was forced to accord us Independence.
"This was the spirit which won us our freedom. The most important challenge to us now is to inculcate in our children values such as racial tolerance and cooperation so that we don't think ourselves as separate from the other races," he said in his hour-long speech at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.
If it is any help in these most trying of times for the country, I'd say it is a message that should hold true for all Malaysians. Problems and dissatisfaction will always be there as long as we are mortals but looking ahead as a nation we must always remind ourselves the values inherent in racial tolerance and cooperation. A nascent democracy, a developing nation and a people that wants to live in peace are ingredients for the next big push to greater cohesion after 50 years of nationhood. Adversity that emanates from problems that we face within should be dealt with amicably without ripping assunder the delicate fabric of our multi-racial society.