May 28, 2008
DEPUTY Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak made an interesting statement on Sunday. He said that Bangsa Malaysia will become a reality when all the people in this country regard each other as Malaysian rather than members of the various ethnic groups with their own separate culture, language and religion.
For one thing the statement affirms that Bangsa Malaysia is a national aspiration as well as an objective. For another it is in the interest of all Malaysians to work hard to make Bangsa Malaysia a reality.
Even though Bangsa Malaysia was talked about by the government nearly two decades ago, there was little real effort made to make the concept acceptable to everyone. It almost faded away from national memory after strong opposition to the idea caused the government to falter and caused it to be removed from the priority list of things that need to be done.
Fifty years of experience of living together should have made us more broadminded, tolerant, mature and even wiser so as to be able to discuss this common aspiration openly and with respect and decorum.What is needed now is a constant reminder through all kinds of campaigns that Bangsa Malaysia is a national objective. It should be the central theme of every National Unity Month.
Just as coordinated campaigns were conducted by the government to promote Bahasa Malaysia several years ago, the same type of campaigns should be undertaken to make Bangsa Malaysia part of the national consciousness.
If we truly want a Bangsa Malaysia, we have no choice but to work hard and put in all our effort to achieve it. There is no point in all of us saying Bangsa Malaysia is the national objective but doing very little to make it a reality. An important element of this effort is to regard each other as fellow Malaysians. If it is a process, as stated by Najib, then it is a process that had already begun, albeit informally, long ago even though not everyone was involved. All that is required now is to build on it and widen it to include everyone.
Also, it has been acknowledged that the strength of Malaysia is its diversity – people of various races, cultures and religions living and working together. Once everyone accepts this diversity, the people would be able to live and work together more harmoniously. There is much that we must do, but from now on let the effort be more concerted and properly coordinated.We must be able to say by the time we celebrate our 100th national day that we are truly one bangsa, Bangsa Malaysia. Our future depends on it.