KUCHING: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants Malaysians to realise their responsibility to uphold unity and the ethnic, religious and cultural diversity for the country’s stability and progress.
The prime minister said stability gives room to administer and implement national development policies and programmes for the well-being of the people, thus enhancing economic activity and generating wealth to be shared.
“On this Malaysia Day, as citizens, we need to be aware of our responsibility to safeguard unity and diversity so that we can reflect on our ability to achieve unity in diversity although we come from many races and ethnic groups,” he said when addressing the Malaysia Day 2019 gathering at Stadium Perpaduan in Petra Jaya here tonight.
Recalling the unity of the people of Sabah, Sarawak and Malaya who agreed to form Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963, Dr Mahathir said the people will surely not take lightly the unity and cooperation among the people but will safeguard them if there are elements which want to disrupt unity.
He said Malaysians should learn from the destruction of some countries as a result of disunity that led to conflicts and wars, and there are times when the destruction cannot be undone in the span of a single generation.
Acknowledging that the spirit of unity will have its ups and downs depending on the situation and environment, Dr Mahathir said it should not undermine the spirit of unity among the people.
“There are attempts to weaken our unity, and this is being done by our own people. The narratives used are often linked to emotional matters, especially involving race, religion, parochialism and ethnic groups.
“It is very easy for us to get trapped in these issues because they are close to our hearts. However, if we are big-hearted, self-confident and think rationally, we will not allow ourselves to be influenced,” he said.
The prime minister stressed that the responsibility of maintaining unity among the people is not purely that of the federal government or the Sabah and Sarawak governments but that of all the people who claim to be Malaysians.
Dr Mahathir said the Malaysia Day theme of Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih is aimed at reminding the people of the dangers of corruption that can destroy the country and the importance of keeping Malaysia free from it.
“We have seen how the country was almost destroyed by corruption and abuse of power. True, we have got rid of the tainted leadership but that does not mean that it (corruption) is no more and will not rear its ugly head again,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also spoke of the Shared Prosperity Vision aimed at strengthening and expanding the nation’s economy to ensure the well-being of the people.
“We want this shared prosperity to be channelled to all the people, including to enhance their purchasing power and eliminate the income and wealth gaps among the races.
“When this is done, the government can ensure that the nation’s wealth is distributed fairly and equitably among the people, thus creating harmony and stability among them,” he said.
Emphasising that the involvement of all races in the various sectors of the economy in a fair and just manner is important to create shared prosperity in the spirit of the New Malaysia, the prime minister said the government wants all states in the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak to make a success of it. — Bernama