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We were once again Malaysians and not Indian, Chinese or Malay. We were a happy family. (Pic by FAIZ ANUAR)

AS we celebrate Aug 31, I have been thinking about what it means to be a Malaysian and the Malaysian spirit.

I am reminded of the time when I was a student at St Paul’s Institution in Seremban, Negri Sembilan from 1976 to 1986.

We embraced what we called the Paulian spirit. We Paulians never identified each other by race or religion.

It made us stand by and support each other. We even welcomed foreign students and treated them as Paulians.

We connected at a human level and this is what I understood to be the Malaysian spirit.

It is only when we left school that we began to identify each other by our race and religion. Suddenly, I began to realise that I was an Indian and Hindu and these began to matter.

The only other time I experienced this Malaysian spirit after I left school was when I stayed in Jakarta a few years ago.

There, we were once again Malaysians and not Indian, Chinese or Malay. We were a happy family.

I may complain about what’s happening in Malaysia or I may complain that my individual rights are sometimes infringed.

However, this doesn’t lessen my patriotism.

I will still defend Malaysia until my very last breath. This is what I understand to be Malaysian.

So, today, why do I feel that we are being divided by forces that don’t understand the Malaysian spirit? Can we bring back that spirit of being Malaysian?

DR SEKAR JAGANATHAN

Seremban, Negri Sembilan

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