Patriotism and unity in Malaysia’s multicultural society

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A morning market at Ipoh, a Malaysian city in the state of Perak – Photo: Asia Samachar
By Dr. Amerjit Singh | OPINION |

Patriotism is a very important ingredient  in the process of maintaining unity. Patriotism often refers to feelings of love and affection for the country. In the context of Malaysia, the spirit of patriotism, among others, is focused on the characteristics of obedience to the law and unwavering loyalty to national sovereignty.

A comprehensive policy known as the ‘National Unity Policy’ was recently launched by the Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.  The “National Unity Policy” underscores the importance of unity in diversity. It strives to strengthen Malaysia’s national unity along with integration that is based on the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara. This policy aims to form national identity along with the spirit of being patriotic, tolerance, mutual respect and as well as being responsible. Undeniably, patriotism is indeed significant in bringing about a united Malaysian society.

In this regard, in enhancing patriotism and the understanding of democracy, it is essential for us to enhance our appreciation towards Malaysian history. It is true that history has taught us the meaning of maturity – the state of being mature, both intellectually and emotionally.. The sharing of a balanced historical education, among others, encompasses the history of the Federation of Malaya in 1957, followed by the Formation of Malaysia in 1963. It also includes the sacrifices made by  local warriors such as Tok Janggut, Rentap and Dato Maharaja Lela and our heroes who fought for independence, for instance. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun V.T. Sambanthan. This sharing should be nurtured from an early age. As such, the preservation of thought in historical education is believed to be able to increase the identity and spirit of patriotism among the younger generation in Malaysia.

Furthermore, the effort of enhancing literacy, understanding and appreciation regarding the sovereignty of the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara are important in  our daily lives. The lack of understanding the principles and values ​​of the Federal Constitution, for example, will lead to confusion and turmoil over religious and race issues. This matter is feared to cause conflict among Malaysians. In this regard, various programmes and activities, for example, the National Speech Competitions, the National Storytelling Competitions, the Poetry and Short Story Writing Competitions as well as the entertaining Patriotic Stars programs are able to instil and strengthen the spirit of patriotism among the Malaysian plural society.

As the elderly saying goes, everything happens for a reason. Similarly, when applied in the context of patriotism, COVID-19 pandemic which has recently hit our country has successfully strengthened  the spirit of patriotism and, at the same time, the spirit of unity among Malaysians. This pandemic has shown that the Malaysian society is eager to help each other regardless of race, religion and political beliefs. Some are willing to provide food, clothing, necessities and others to the frontliners as well as people who are in need. In addition, the public has shown affection to the country by expressing their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the frontliners. All these clearly reflect the spirit of patriotism and strong unity among the Malaysian plural society.

In conclusion, it’s undeniable that the spirit of patriotism is the root to the unity of our multiracial society in Malaysia. In our effort to increase the spirit of patriotism and maintaining unity, we cannot rely solely on the role of government. Certainly, this is a shared responsibility collaboration and requires strong support and cooperation of non-Governmental organizations, the private sector, GLCs and related stakeholders. Such integrated involvement is indeed significant as they resemble unity amongst the people.  So, let us all continue to enhance the spirit of patriotism in our noble desire to preserve and maintain the unity of the country, and ultimately, for the sake of harmony, prosperity  and the well-being of all Malaysians.

Dr. Amerjit Singh L S. Bhag Singh is the Director of Media and Corporate Communication Division at Department of Information Malaysia. The Malay version of this article, entitled ‘Patriotisme tunjang perpaduan masyarakat’
appeared in 
Berita Harian, a Malay newspaper, on 5 March 2021.

 

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