NST Leader: Royal decree

HIS Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, has given our members of parliament a formula to take the nation to a good place: political unity.

And that royal formula, disclosed by the king in his inaugural address at the Third Session of the 15th Parliament, comes with a royal warning: "I will not entertain any request from any party that may compromise the political stability of the country.

Political plotting can, and indeed did in 2020, ruin Malaysia's journey to a good place. The mess created by many of the MPs four years ago this month caused such a disarray in the country that the British newspaper The Economist gave the political disorder on Feb 24 the headline "Chaos in KL".

What else could it be when a prime minister goes to bed as such, wakes up as one, resigns as prime minister in the afternoon and then in the evening the ex-prime minister is back as interim prime minister?

Do not go interpreting the royal call for political unity to mean absence of political opposition. There is always a place for opposition parties in a political system based on parliamentary democracy.

His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim made this clear when he put it thus: "I therefore urge all parties, whether seated to my right or my left, let us be united, work together and collaborate to develop the country for the benefit of all Malaysians."

The royal command "to constantly feel the pulse of the people" wasn't just addressed to one side of the aisle of the august house, but both. The king is right. The success or failure of the country isn't just the responsibility of the prime minister, but all 222 MPs.

Political unity also means racial harmony. Here, too, there is much work to be done. Unity among Malaysians, the king finds, has yet to reach a pleasing place in this country of many races and ethnicities, notwithstanding more than 60 years of living together.

The king talked of two reasons why this is so. One is the failure among the current generation to master the national language and the other is the lack of appreciation for the cultures of others. Here, it is incumbent on the people to work hard on both. Every nation has a national language for a reason.

It makes it easy to be on the same page as a nation. And it creates interracial harmony, too. There is a divine purpose why we humans are created differently: we are commanded to get to know each other better. As the king implies, much work needs to be done on this score. The government can help with policies, as His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim has suggested.

But much of the work to create a harmonious living must be done by each one of us. Change must begin with one before it touches all 33 million. There is wisdom in the saying: the whole is equal to the sum of its parts.

Taking Malaysia to a good place isn't going to be easy. But it will be made easier if all of us have the same destination in mind. Those in one compartment of the train can't be headed to one place and those in another to another.

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