SPECIAL ADDRESS TO MALAYSIANS
26 JANUARY 2014
Let’s work towards a national consensus
1. It has been just over four months since we last celebrated Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day. Just celebrating them as a festivity doesn’t mean much if we miss the bigger picture.
2. I cannot overemphasise the importance of this bigger picture.
3. That is why I am taking this opportunity to address not just all of you present here this afternoon but to all Malaysians at home and abroad today.
4. By all Malaysians I mean exactly that – regardless of race, religion, cultural group or mother tongue; regardless of whether you are from the Peninsula or from Sabah and Sarawak; and regardless of your political affiliation.
5. It does not matter whether you are with Pakatan Rakyat or with Barisan Nasional, or that you are with neither party, nor that you are independent or even totally apolitical, I want to reach out to all with this message.
6. It is a message conceived in love for the nation and not in hate against anyone. It is a message raised on the altar of hope, not on the ruins of despair. And it is a message for all of us including myself to take home and share with our family, our neighbours and our friends so that we may move forward.
7. At the outset, I mentioned celebrating Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day and what it entails for it to be truly meaningful. First and foremost, it is a celebration of the fundamental liberties enshrined in our Federal Constitution, a document of statehood agreed to by our founding fathers attendant upon our gaining independence.
8. This constitution is not just a piece of paper. It is a sovereign document brought into existence as a result of the social compact of our leaders representing the diverse communities in this blessed country of ours.
9. It guarantees our right to life and liberty, to freedom of speech, assembly and association. It prescribes equality of all citizens before the law and guarantees freedom of religion.
10. These provisions form the sub-stratum of our Malaysian identity, an identity made up of a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. These principles must be respected by all communities, whether they comprise the majority or they constitute minorities. They must be honoured by the politicians in word and deed whether they are in power or whether they are in the opposition. Similarly, all civil society groups, NGOs, and all the organs of state must abide by these constitutional safeguards.
11. The Malaysian identity as a nation of peoples can only be as good as the cohesiveness of this very plural society of ours. Take this unity and sense of togetherness away and we will take away our identity as Malaysians.
12. So, indeed, after 56 years of independence one would expect that this cohesiveness is not only in existence but should be growing stronger by the day. Unfortunately though, there has been particularly in the last few months, a series of circumstances and developments that collectively are fast eroding the cohesiveness that is so crucial to our identity.
13. In fact, these developments appear to be reaching a crescendo that threatens to tear the very fabric of our unity apart. Of course, we have not reached the tipping point yet but as they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
14. And we cannot be vigilant enough here. That is because what we are seeing today are all kinds of attempts by certain quarters to take this nation to the brink.
15. In fact, we have not seen this building up of tension since the events leading up to our national tragedy of May 13th 1969. The voices of hate and animosity, the voices of prejudice and suspicion, and the voices of wreck and ruin are attempting to drown out the harmony, cooperation and understanding that we have managed to build on the ruins of this tragedy.
16. I call on you, my fellow Malaysians to rise up and let your voices be heard. Let your voice of mutual respect and goodwill, your voice of understanding and trust, and your voice of unity and integration prevail over these voices of hatred, rancour, hostility and destruction.
17. We must turn the corner from the path of increasing polarization to the path of greater integration. We must stop the race-baiting, put an end to this disease of incitement to religious intolerance and hatred and join our hands in unity and togetherness.
18. Leaders from both sides of the political divide must put aside all partisan concerns and show real leadership in easing the tension and work towards ameliorating the situation.
19. Indeed, the time has come for all of us to reach a national consensus on these crucial issues that impact the sub-stratum of our identity as a nation.
20. In line with the spirit of the constitution, all parties must cease questioning the paramount position of Islam as the religion of the Federation.
21. In reaffirming the position of Islam and recognizing that Muslims make up the majority of the population, we must reject the notion that Islam is under threat. We must reject the notion that there is some sinister conspiracy to replace Islam as the religion of the Federation with some other religion.
22. We must at the same time give due recognition to the same constitutional safeguards on all the other religions in the land. We are a nation of communities comprising a plurality of faiths. In this regard, Buddhists, Taoists, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and practitioners of ethnic religions must be accorded their constitutional freedom to practise their religion in the manner of their choosing.
23. In working towards this consensus, let us remain focussed on the other things that really matter to us as a nation going forward.
24. Let us work together to tackle the issues of governance, transparency and accountability. Whether it is at the Federal or state levels, let us resolve to stamp out the cancer of corruption which still plagues us.
25. The problem of rising prices recognises no partisan boundaries. So, let us channel our energies to enhancing the welfare of the rakyat and formulating practical solutions to lighten their burden.
26. Instead of fighting figments of our imagination, let us help our police fight crime and make our homes, our schools, our shopping complexes safer.
27. It is morally incumbent on us, particularly those of us who have been elected by the people to represent them, to go beyond partisan lines and come to a national consensus on how to move the nation forward.
28. Duty towards the nation, even greater than duty to party, impels us to take up the challenge. We must strengthen our resolve and summon all our moral courage to see this through.