PETALING JAYA: Sehati, Sejiwa (One Heart, One Soul) makes a reappearance as the theme of National Day celebrations this year, a year after the Penang state government caused a furor with plans for its own celebrations under its own theme.
Communications minister Salleh Said Keruak said yesterday that the Cabinet decided to retain last year’s theme.
In a posting on his personal blog Salleh said “there is a need for the good old feeling of togetherness among Malaysians. Such togetherness is crucial if we want to see our nation, and its people progress over the next decade or so”.
Last year, the Penang state government announced its own theme, “Bersih, Cekap, Amanah” for state celebrations of National Day, and drew heavy criticism for politicising a day of national unity.
The state denied it had political motives and said the slogan was that used by the Mahathir Mohamad government in the 1980s. However, critics pointed out that Bersih was the name of the electoral reform group that had planned a massive street protest on National Day weekend and that Amanah was the name of the new DAP-friendly party of breakaway PAS members.
The state government relented after the armed forces announced a boycott of the parade.
Yesterday, Salleh said that Malaysians had “universal values we all share and which unite us” no matter what the colour of the skin or the language spoken, Bernama reported.
Salleh said few activities could unite people like sports, arts and entertainment.
“Besides the favorites, world champions Nicol David and Lee Chong Wei, we have a lot of other amazing athletes who have flown our ‘Jalur Gemilang’ on the world stage and brought honour to our country,” he said.
Visually-impaired 16-year-old Felicia Mikat won three gold medals at the eighth Asean Para Games last year, and Paralympic athletes Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Puzi and Abdul Latif Romly both won gold at the world championships in Doha.
Actress Michelle Yeoh had elevated Malaysia’s name through her acting roles, singer-songwriter Yuna’s latest album was one of the top R&B albums released this year, among entertainment icons Beyonce and Rihanna.
Filmmaker Nadira Ilana had become the first Malaysian to be selected for a residency with Big Stories, an Australian documentary project exploring rural towns across the Asia Pacific region.
“We must protect our independence and conserve our spirit of togetherness,” said Salleh. “Let us maintain a united spirit of togetherness and continue to strive for excellence and unity in all that we do,” he added.