64 years ago, on a drizzly Saturday morning, a historic moment had taken place. in Malaysia, then known as Malaya. It was on this day where Malaya’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj had declared the country’s independence from British rule. His right arm and open palm raised towards the skies, Tunku Abdul Rahman shouted “Merdeka” seven times. Tens of thousands of people who had gathered at the iconic Stadium Merdeka echoed his cries and jubilant that Malaysia was going to be a powerful, democratic and independent country. More fondly regarded as the nation’s Founding Father, Tunku was a visionary leader.
An excerpt from the Yayasan Tunku Abdul Rahman website, talks of Tunku as a leader “with a noble dream of “unity in diversity” for our beloved land – a dream that was ahead of its time. A great mediator and reconciler, Tunku brought diverse people together in 1957 and again in 1963. Inter-racial peace and harmony were his legacy to the nation. Ever since he inherited the leadership of UMNO from Dato’ Sir Onn Jaffar in August 1951 he worked ceaselessly to bring the disparate racial and religious communities together under one political platform and chisel out painstaking compromises”.
The Path Forward for Malaysia
Fast forward to the present, and one tends to ask ‘how far have we Malaysians come in realizing Tunku’s dream of unity in diversity?’ Some may say, we have forgotten the promises made long ago, but we at ESPC believe that unity is more present now especially as Malaysia navigates the Covid-19 pandemic. Taking on the rallying cry of Tunku 64 years ago, Malaysians from every walk of life have come together to help one another regardless of status, colour, and creed. If that isn’t living and playing the part of a Malaysian, we don’t what is.
Movements such as #kitajagakita that was sparked by an ordinary Malaysian on social media is now a full-blown initiative that is aimed at helping the less fortunate ride out the pandemic-induced lock downs only goes to show how much every one of us care for our neighbors and our society. If this isn’t Malaysian being united, we don’t know what else is? The current upheaval is nothing but the mark of our diversity – a search for equilibrium and a test of our tolerance, accommodation and acceptance for the principles of a democratic nation.
As the ninth Prime Minister of Malaysia, Ismail Sabri was sworn in, he had asked every politician from the governing and opposing parties to bury their differences for the sake of prosperity and the welfare of the people. And he had decreed for all to embrace the spirit of togetherness. And every Malaysian should embrace the clarion call to be united and stay united to overcome adversaries in the physical and digital world.
On this historic date, ESPC Media wishes every Malaysian to wish you Selamat Hari Merdeka. May we Malaysians continue to live up to the legacy of Tunku Abdul Rahman and his aspiration of creating a nation that is united even in its diversity.
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