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Create a sustainable people and nation through childhood bonding

Now that our country is sailing under the stewardship of the unity government, let us pause for a moment and ponder how the unity of the various communities of this nation can be sustained way into the future. It is not just for the next five years, or 10 or 20 even. It is for many decades to come. It is for our future generations.

How can we achieve the long-term sustainability of the unity of our people? To look for a solution, let us reflect on the national political turmoil after the 15th general election (GE15), which resulted in a hung parliament last year.

What was clear about GE15 was that the votes were divided among various parties with different belief systems. The media, political analysts and purported experts scrambled to put across opinions and theories to explain this divide.

Political leaders and the people at large reacted to the situation and proposed that political parties let go of some of their principles and values so as to forge some sort of political collaboration between the winners and losers of GE15. It was a new scenario, a new uncharted territory in the political landscape, which was subsequently solved with the formation of the unity government. So, while it was a new learning curve for all, many did not realise what the causes were behind this effect.

Now let us consider the analogy of saving a dying tree. This is not achieved by merely cutting off the wilted brown leaves but rather by focusing on the roots that need water, minerals and compost. Trying to force parties to abandon their principles and values, and to forsake the choices made by their voters, is like cutting off the brown leaves. It would seem that the parties could work together and form a government to run the nation, but would this solution be sustainable?

When values, principles and trust are compromised, it would not be just the individuals and par- ties that will eventually not see eye to eye but it would also translate into the voters feeling betrayed. So, while a solution for our nation has been found by our monarch and the various political parties, I would like to suggest a more sustainable solution for the future of our nation.

This involves the children of this country. What have they been exposed to from young? It is fear of the unknown, and we know that one of the most powerful emotions possessed by humankind is fear. The fuel of fear is ignorance. This is akin to people being afraid of the dark - not knowing what is around them when there is no light. Once we switch on the light, the fear disappears as we now know what is around us. Similarly, people fear what they do not know and understand. And that is what we have been exposing our people to since a tender age.

We separate our children from pre-school to primary, then at secondary school level before they go to college or university. For some 12 years, at an age when they start learning and forming opinions, many of us put them in clusters where they mix only with their own kind. We deprive them of mix- ing with children from other races, with religions and languages different from our own. Therefore, the understanding of the differences and potential beautiful bonds that could have been fostered among our children instead becomes fear, fuelled by ignorance and apprehension.

If Malaysian children learn about each other from young, learn to play and work on projects together, and go through successes and failures together as a team, I believe they will grow up together absent of that fear fuelled by ignorance. They will not grow up divided but instead be united.

Imagine a dream nation with just one school open to all our children regardless of family back- ground. It is where all our children learn and mingle, and integrate and interact with each other from a young age. They will use their energy to learn from one another and build their lives together, leveraging each other's strengths to survive.

Here is another analogy.To make a rainbow cake, we need all the different colours. We cannot make it with just one colour. Likewise, a beautiful Malaysia is made up of all the different colours, layered cohesively with deep understanding and respect, devoid of fear, hatred and apprehension.As we have already seen and experienced, this cannot happen when our children are segregated in school, mixing only with their own kind. How can we expect them to understand and co-exist with others later on in their lives when they simply do not know how to? They are not exposed to it in their formative years. They are sceptical and suspicious of others who are different from them. What is worse, they consider themselves superior to the rest.

Therefore, children from different backgrounds must develop a bond by means of unifying values and principles from a young age. This can be done without compromising their mother tongue and culture. We will then be able to harness the strengths of our diversity and not focus on our differences as a weakness. We will be able to unleash Malaysians as potential capital assets able to penetrate the 1.6 billion China market, 1.3 billion India market and 300 million Indonesian market, not to mention the much larger potential of Chinese, Indian and Ma- lay-speaking markets. Malaysia can truly be Asia. And as a multicultural nation of peace and progress, we can be a beacon of hope for the world.

We would be able to build economies based on our understanding of the differences in behaviour among our various communities with their individual cultural, religious and linguistic characteristics and nuances. Malaysia as a country will be united, communities will be bonded together, fuelled by knowledge and understanding of each other. So, I call upon all Malaysians to push our leaders to unequivocally have all our children go through a single national school - a "Malaysia School" that is neither divided nor separated. Work out a model based on a single school system that all our kids go to and learn to co-exist at a young age. Where they will learn about each other, play with each other and develop together so that they will grow up together with unifying values and principles. It would be a beautiful Malaysia.

It is a non-popular suggestion as the enemies of this country will not allow for it. Divided, we are easier to conquer.So, this may end up as just wishful thinking, but if we are serious about making Ma- laysia great and roar like a tiger again one day, this unpopular and very difficult decision needs to be taken. I would like to believe that our current leaders are smart and visionary enough to understand its importance. Let us pray that this is matched by conviction. Today we have the opportunity to make a better tomorrow for the children of Malaysia and start creating the environment for them to be much stronger and progressive together. At least they would be better off than our generation. Tepuk dada tanya selera.


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