PETALING JAYA, Sept 6 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Despite enjoying the fruits of independence for the past 62 years, Malaysians generally are still absorbed in racial and religious issues and other petty matters, a political analyst said today.
Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin said this was primarily because there was a low level of understanding of culture, traditions and religious sensitivity among the younger generation.
“These things, when blown out of proportion, cause problems and endanger harmony. We are too focused on the negatives and love to listen to coffee shop talk, when in fact, there are many other positive things we can talk about.”
“For instance, there are people saying that these are threatening times… but really, what and where exactly is this threat? It is nothing more than assumptions meant to scare the public, what more with the abuse of the social media and smartphones,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters at a forum, ‘Malaysia after 62 years of Independence’ held at the Sin Chew Daily headquarters here last night, in which he was one of the panellists.
The forum with the theme #KitalahMalaysia (We are Malaysia), held as part of the national month campaign, was organised by news dailies, Sin Chew Daily and Sinar Harian to promote intercommunity relationships and understanding.
Shamsul Amri said all parties should look at bigger and more realistic issues instead, such as how to fortify the economy and the education system so as to move forward with times.
He reminded that the nation’s success and achievements now enjoyed by the people were reaped through years of unity and understanding among the races, while adding that this long standing bond must must never be allowed to crumble.
“Malaysia is still in the process of attaining unity in the true sense of the word. The unity enjoyed now can be seen in the way we interact despite being from different racial backgrounds. That is how special and unique Malaysians are.
“We can still agree to disagree and even in tensed situations, we can sort it out peacefully. So, to attain this real sense of unity we are searching for, we have to find those similarities and that meeting point by getting to know each other more,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shamsul Amri proposed the government to allocate more funding for programmes that promoted racial unity.
Another panelist, former MCA President Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat, said Malaysia must somehow move forward to preserve it’s racial unity and sense of tolerance.
“The situation in Malaysia when it comes to unity now seems to be made of two elements, there is a close-bond but yet tensed at times, but we share similarities in many situations. We need to understand and appreciate each other’s culture and practices more. Do not allow this unity we have enjoyed to be eroded just because of racial or religious disagreements,” he said.
MIC vice-president Datuk C. Sivarraajh, the third panelist, said what Malaysia had achieved so far took years and this should not be destroyed by racial sentiments.
“I urge Malaysians to realise for themselves that since Independence, the nation has gone through a lot of challenges and a lot of effort has been taken to uplift the people’s socio economic status and to reduce poverty.
“We can achieve much more if we work it out together and find a meeting point rather than just focus on the disagreements,” he said.