‘Let’s show we have unity in diver­sity’

We should be ‘colour-blind’ and put our dif­fer­ent an­ces­tries be­hind us, says Lam Thye

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By ARNOLD LOH and N. TR­ISHA north@thes­tar.com.my

BUT­TER­WORTH: For many Malaysians, they fondly re­call the days lead­ing to the found­ing of Malaysia in 1963.

#AnakA­nakMalaysia or­gan­is­ing chair­man Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, for one, was a 17­year­old school­boy then.

“I was in Form Five and didn’t know much about pol­i­tics. But I re­mem­ber how ex­cited ev­ery­one was,” said Lee.

From neigh­bours to school­teach­ers, Lee said ev­ery­one talked for days about Sabah, Sarawak, Sin­ga­pore and the Fed­er­a­tion of Malaya form­ing a new coun­try.

“The im­pres­sion I had then was that we would be­come a big­ger and stronger coun­try. And it is not just about Malays, Chi­nese and In­di­ans any­more, but about many more eth­nic groups.

“We had a his­tory teacher who spoke ex­cit­edly about Malaysia and taught us much about Sabah and Sarawak.

“More than 50 eth­nic groups united to be­come Malaysians. The thought of form­ing a coun­try so vastly mul­ti­cul­tural ex­cited all of us.

“Now, here we are, 55 years later and still go­ing strong,” Lee said with a smile af­ter lead­ing Pe­nang’s #AnakA­nakMalaysia Walk in Eco Hori­zon Show Vil­lage at Ban­dar Cas­sia, Batu Kawan.

At least 4,000 par­tic­i­pants were at Eco World De­vel­op­ment Group Bhd’s sprawl­ing es­tate yes­ter­day with the air cool af­ter a rainy night.

Chief Min­is­ter Chow Kon Yeow and sev­eral other state lead­ers were among those who turned up.

“Let us be ‘colour­blind’ and put our dif­fer­ent an­ces­tries be­hind us. We have shown the world how we can have unity in diver­sity,” Lee said.

He also called on cor­po­ra­tions to play a role in fos­ter­ing unity as one of their cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

“Fos­ter­ing unity is not just the gov­ern­ment’s job. It is ev­ery­one’s duty,” he said.

#AnakA­nakMalaysia is a fouryear­old na­tional unity cam­paign by EcoWorld and Star Me­dia Group. It be­gan in 2015 as a sim­ple ges­ture of wear­ing red wrist­bands marked with the Jalur Gemi­lang.

Since 2016, the cam­paign in­cluded sym­bolic unity walks in the Klang Val­ley, Jo­hor Baru and Pe­nang, while the wrist­band evolved cre­atively and be­came a fash­ion ac­ces­sory this year with the chance to af­fix pins onto the bands.

The pins, among oth­ers, de­pict nasi le­mak bungkus, Mount Kinabalu, Sarawak’s horn­bill and the wau of the east coast.

Among Pe­nang’s walk­ers this year was re­tired teacher Agnes Teh, 73, who car­ries in her heart what she de­scribed as the “Malaysian hope”.

She felt that Malaysians to­day were “guilty” of grav­i­tat­ing to­wards their own race.

“It was not a sud­den change. It hap­pened grad­u­ally over the years. We started to di­vide our­selves.

“Peo­ple should par­tic­i­pate in walks like this where we are all to­gether.

“Hope­fully, with the changes we have seen this year, things may go back to how it was when I was young,” she said.

Proud Malaysians: Chow (cen­tre), flanked by Lee (wear­ing white cap) and EcoWorld De­vel­op­ment Group chair­man Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, with par­tic­i­pants dur­ing the # AnakA­nak Malaysia Walk in Batu Kawan, Pe­nang.

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