The case for diversity

By definition, the term “diversity” means to be composed of different elements.

In sociological terms, “diversity” recognises the differences which exist between people of different races, ethnicity, religion, age, gender and philosophy, among other things.

In the modern era, we have been taught to recognise, appreciate and celebrate these differences. We know for a fact that when we do, we acquire greater knowledge and understanding of one another, which in turn gives us a better chance of peacefully coexisting with each other. But when we don’t, we breed racism, discrimination and persecution.

Since its formation, Malaysia has always been hailed as a diverse country. We have for hundreds of years harnessed our diversity, which is reflected in just about everything. Wherever you are, look at the architecture that make up our cities, towns and villages. Look at our cuisine. Our dressing. Our different ways of life. Diverse, yet assimilated. Unique, yet common to all of us.

If our way of life tends to assimilate us, why should we allow people to draw lines to keep us apart? Why do we allow these people to push us away from each other? After all, we have lived harmoniously with each other over many generations.

Diversity is neutral and by itself cannot harm us as individuals or as a nation. It can only be disrupted by the introduction of the element of fear – that we, as a people, have reason to fear each other.

People who operate at this level prey on our weaknesses and insecurities by seeking to classify the differences of others as perceived “faults”. In political parlance, this is what is called trying to create a “wedge issue”. Instead of celebrating those differences, we are taught to criticise and condemn them.

Regrettably, a toxic cult of diversity and extreme multiculturalism has built up in recent times. If allowed to prevail, it will divide our beloved country further into ‘tribal’ groups which have less and less in common with others. These groups are more susceptible to influence peddled by unscrupulous individuals.

The time has come for us to reverse this trend before the situation gets out of hand. Instead of diversity being our strength, it will destroy what has made us such a great country. Diversity is part of our history and must be our future. We must forever be an inclusive state.

Over hundreds of years the political masters of our land relied on immigration to build this country into what it is today. We have always been a melting pot. Once melted, we form one mass and can only ever be one society.

Diversity makes us strong and it is our job as leaders to welcome people who choose to call our country home and ensure that they are given the opportunity to succeed. Their strength will be expressed in patriotic unity.

We call on each and every Malaysian not to let go, but to continuously attempt to understand, compromise and learn from each other because we all look at things from a different perspective and have different ideas and experiences to draw from.

What is our perception of Malaysia’s diversity? Do we see the positive aspects or only negatives? Do we think emotionally or logically; irrationally or use reason?

The success of any one ethnic group in any field should not be the envy of others. Instead, we must learn to recognise the benefits of that success to the whole country and find ways to replicate that success within our own ethnic communities.

GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) calls on all Malaysians to take a step back and re-evaluate our approach to how we view and harness our diversity. It is much more than a slogan that we only pay lip service to.

Fadillah Yusof is the MP for Petra Jaya in Sarawak and chief whip of GPS MPs.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.