KUALA LUMPUR: The goodwill, tolerance and readiness to give and share, which were the foundations of the country when it achieved independence 62 years ago, must be preserved as Malaysia moves forward.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said these values should not have stopped when the country achieved independence or when it had reaped the rewards of development.
He said the people should always hold on to the time-honoured values which have been practiced since the time of their parents and grandparents, even as the country progresses, as it will guarantee that Malaysia remains on the right path.
These Malaysian values, he said, laid the foundations towards independence which allowed the successful building of a nation.
“Malaysia was built on the foundations of tolerance, goodwill, mutual respect, the readiness of giving and sharing, selflessness and a desire to make sacrifices for the sake of the country.
“Without such traits, Malaysia would not have grown into a developed country which is capable of giving its people all the comforts and progress it has today.
“The development seen is nothing less stellar than what is seen in other countries, and at times, what we reap is far better than in other countries,” Dr Mahathir said in his 62nd National Day message.
He said it is unfortunate that many of the values are being pushed aside nowadays, as the ugly side of Malaysians could be seen whenever sensitive issues are raised about race and religion.
“Unfortunately, if we look around us and while we are immersed in advancements made in communication and digitalisation, these good values have been sidelined by hideous behaviour.
“What is most damaging is when these bad traits become apparent when dealing with sensitive issues related to race and religion.
“When defending their respective religion or race, a diatribe against another race and religion occurs with the use of offensive words, which eventually causes anger and uneasiness.
“It is strange, because if we want to defend our religion and race, we should be using civilised language and behaviour. But the opposite occurs,” said Dr Mahathir.
The prime minister urged Malaysians to search within themselves for their spirit of comradeship and nationhood which had enabled the country to achieve independence and become developed.
“We need to ask ourselves if we want to no longer care about the country’s future, while we are defending the narrow interests of our respective races and religions.
“If we are truly sincere, we would realise how much we have reaped in our country. If we have that realisation, we would find ways and strive hard to defend (the country).”
Dr Mahathir said Malaysians should learn from the lessons of other countries, which had once enjoyed the fruits of prosperity, only to see it all ruined and their countrymen become refugees who flee to other countries.
He said conflicts could occur when one segment of society demands for its interests, but has to face another segment of society which does not want to be tolerant or willing to forgive.
On another matter, he said the government is focusing on the Wawasan Kemakmuran Bersama (vision of shared prosperity) which aims to provide a reasonable standard of living for Malaysians.
The objective of the vision is to turn Malaysia into a major Asian economic focal point, while increasing the people’s spending power and narrowing the income gap between the differing classes, races and regions.
“Wawasan Kemakmuran Bersama is an effort to turn Malaysia into a country with sustainable growth in line with a fair and inclusive distribution of (wealth) at all levels of value chains, classes, races and geographical locations. These will be done towards achieving harmony and stability among the people by 2030.”
Dr Mahathir said ensuring that Malaysia is corruption-free is a top priority for the government.
“Among the biggest disasters in the country are cases of corruption, and this has also affected the public services secto
r. To ensure that our policies are not sabotaged by those who abuse power and accept bribes, the government has placed the eradication of corruption as one of its main objectives.
“That is why this year’s National Day is themed ‘Love Our Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia’. We hope to rid the country of corrupt practices as it could stifle our efforts to provide for the people’s prosperity.”
Dr Mahathir also reminded the people that Aug 31, 1957 was the start of freedom from a foreign power, which had previously plundered the country’s resources for a foreign people’s interest.
He said unless Malaysians today read about or watch documentaries detailing the historic event 62 years ago, and the hardship endured by the country on the road towards independence, they would not know about it.