Is Malaysia truly unified? Are we mature enough to ensure the future of our children?
These searching questions have no simple answers given the complexity of our history and profile of a diverse people.
But one thing is certain: it is obligatory on us to ensure the viable future of Malaysia.
The word ‘Malaysian’ describes a united state of mind of varied people separated by a wide body of water yet connected in a common destiny.
Fifty-seven years after merging to form Malaysia, this oneness of spirit should be more profound today than at inception.
Being Malaysian brings us together wherever we are in the knowledge that we will stand strong as one, come what may.
The people of the peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak have come to the realisation that this nation is here to stay despite the efforts of some who want the two states to go their own way.
Let us not forget that we are all inextricably linked by the umbilical cord of nationhood forged on Sept 16, 1963, despite discordant voices of dissent.
The people have persevered with a far better understanding today of our different cultures and mores.
The exuberance and joy of six decades of independence from a colonial master naturally dovetails into the exultant sentiments of people from three distinct geographical entities brought together as one.
We are all inseparably connected in mind and spirit as Malaysians and any effort to split us will be thwarted by all.
These are times when Malaysians must believe in being equal citizens rather than preferred subjects; and not being lost in the evil ocean.
It’s about the Malaysian family having a cohesive mindset and being linked in a common purpose.
Malaysia Day is not a one-day affair. It’s something that we must work on every single day.
It involves mutual respect and recognition of disadvantaged people who do not have freedom.
There are still Malaysians who are jobless, discriminated against and struggling to be equal citizens.
Without freedom, we will not have one vision, one identity, one nation.
Without freedom, one does not have the ability to contribute to society, give children a good education and hold a family together.
Malaysia is our nation whether we are in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu or Kuching.
The shared sense of an intertwined future has to be developed further with mistakes of the past on both sides of the South China Sea corrected for the common good.
If you love Malaysia, you must recommit to making sure that everybody in this country is free; that everybody has opportunity; that every child has a proper education.
Malaysians must firmly dismiss those with self-serving interests that mar the character of our beloved nation.
Ignore the harsh and shrill voices of firebrands who promote fractious relationships and persist in forcing drivel upon us.
As challenges to our nation increase exponentially, it is time for all Malaysians to stand up and be counted.
Being Malaysian means putting aside parochial demands for the common good in the knowledge that united we stand and divided we fall.
This time-honoured phrase tells the story of a young country brought together by an envisioned leader who knew there was strength in unity.
Tunku Abdul Rahman’s faith in a new nation called Malaysia has been repeatedly proven with successive prime ministers doing their best to keep the national spirit alive.
As we venture into a new year as Malaysians, we must continue to persevere in the face of adversity and jubilate in times of joy.
We must be of one heart and soul, seek strength in unity and uphold years of fruitful existence.
We have come too far to fail.
No nation is perfect but you, the people, can strive to make it untainted.
Nothing can pull us down as a nation if we stand as a singular force unafraid of what the future holds.
Of this we can be certain.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.