“Promoting inclusivity and diversity should be the cornerstone, highlighting diversity as a national strength and nurturing cultural and religious celebrations as integral parts of our identity. Encouraging dialogue among different racial groups is paramount.”

WITH the state elections now in the past and a treasure trove of insights in hand, Malaysia stands at a defining crossroads. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim shoulders the weighty responsibility of harmonising divergent voices, which is a formidable task.

As we basked in the grandeur of our 66th Independence celebration, we cannot ignore the realities that confront us daily.

Simultaneously, I found myself entrusted with crafting an advertisement concept for an upcoming conference, one that seamlessly intertwines progress and multiculturalism. The vision was clear and easy to formulate on paper. However, translating this vision into actionable steps is a monumental challenge. Similarly, the prime minister should not bear the sole burden of addressing the challenge.

Each of us carries within a narrative that reminisces about the unity we once revelled in. How did we achieve it then? Is it within our grasp to resurrect those bygone days?

Government initiatives in unity often seem to spiral into a complex web of race and religion, making it a labyrinthine task to kickstart progress. Even ethics and morals have been cynically tied to these divisive factors.

What if we championed a simpler, purer cause? What if we advocated for humanity as a standalone subject? A realm where we address people as they are, free from the shadows of divisive elements.

The government bears the responsibility to proactively nurture unity, tolerance and social cohesion. It is not a matter of educating the current government on what needs to be done, it is about uncovering the intricate “how”. The paramount question that follows is: Where does the journey towards healing begin?

To address the challenges of religious and racial disintegration, a comprehensive approach is essential.

Firstly, promoting inclusivity and diversity should be the cornerstone, highlighting diversity as a national strength and nurturing cultural and religious celebrations as integral parts of our identity. Encouraging dialogue among different racial and religious groups is paramount.

Secondly, the government should enforce anti-discrimination laws, holding those who incite hatred or violence based on race or religion accountable.

Thirdly, investing in education programmes is crucial, starting from an early age, to instil values of tolerance, diversity and multiculturalism, with a curriculum that acknowledges the contributions of diverse communities.

Facilitating interfaith dialogues among religious leaders and communities is another vital step toward mutual understanding and cooperation on shared social issues.

Responsible media reporting is essential to prevent the promotion of divisive narratives, while grassroots community engagements can help identify and address concerns.

Ensuring political inclusivity, with opportunities for all racial and religious groups, will promote a more representative government.

Establishing conflict-resolution mechanisms emphasising dialogue over violence and crisis management plans is necessary for maintaining peace.

International cooperation is valuable, especially when regional implications are at stake.

Supporting civil society organisations that advocate for social cohesion, tolerance and human rights can bridge divides and promote inclusive policies.

Addressing economic disparities and ensuring opportunities for all is pivotal as is maintaining transparency and accountability in government actions to uphold the rule of law.

In this context, it is essential that the government’s approach is balanced and respects the rights and freedoms of all citizens while actively working to prevent religious and racial disintegration.

Additionally, building trust and fostering a sense of national identity that transcends racial and religious differences is a long-term process which requires sustained efforts and commitment.

On the Independence Day of a developing nation, people may have a wide range of aspirations and requests.

Nothing thrives without love, hence, my ardent desire is for people to develop an emotional connection with the country, followed by the community they live in, and eventually, their family and themselves. For as we know, nothing thrives without love.

Selamat Hari Merdeka.

Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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