By Mohd Zahid Ahmad Zaki
KUCHING: ‘Malaysia Prihatin’, the theme for this year’s National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations, is fitting with the situation the nation is going through now, says a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) lecturer.
According to him, during this difficult time, cooperation from all parties — the government, opposition parties, private organisations, volunteers, frontliners and the public included — was needed to deal.
“We cannot rely on just one party to resolve the issues we are facing right now.
“Therefore, the ‘Malaysia Prihatin’ theme is apt because without a caring attitude, the targeted objectives will not be achieved easily,” said Dr Suffian Mansor from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities.
He explained that to rekindle love for the country, a strong spirit of patriotism should be sown and cultivated among Malaysians regardless of religion and race.
“This will to lead to a harmonious, prosperous and peaceful nation.
“If this element is not present in society, then there will be feelings of marginalisation that will cause the individuals to start uttering negative words about the country and so on.”
Asked whether or not there were differences between past and present sense of patriotism, Suffian said “our forebears had a very high spirit of patriotism as they did not want to be controlled by the colonialists.
“They are doing their best to get their rights as citizens and reclaim the sovereignty of the homeland.
“They also insisted on equality, progress and the right to rule. Their struggle focused on nation building.”
He added: “Then, it began to change to a constitutional movement to achieve independence.
“Umno and Parti Perikatan gained independence for the Federation of Malaya through constitutional movement. Similarly in Sabah and Sarawak, there were no rebellions.
“They only fight for their rights through the formation of Malaysia and succeeded. Now, we are a country that is free from the control of any party.”
Commenting on claims of eroding patriotism among the younger generation, Suffian said this scenario was worrying because most young people were just celebrating National Day and Malaysia Day without understanding and appreciating the struggles of past heroes.
“If this is not emphasised, then they will have no direction because they do not understand the true essence being conveyed through the National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations.
“Therefore, this generation needs to know and understand our historical and cultural journey. For example, in Sarawak, if we talk about religion, we are made up of various races and ethnicities, so sensitivity among the community must be taken care of.
“Maybe we can’t create equality as a whole due to certain differences but, I believe our (country) leaders will always do their best to provide equality to all parties. We don’t want anyone to miss out on the prosperity that is being built.
“In this regard, we must have initiatives to address certain issues so that problems can be resolved well and professionally.”