65 years of independence is a considerable period of time and progress is indeed perceptible along this hard trail. Despite this amount of time, the dispute of how Malaysians can remain united and inclusive has self-evidently remained an unfinished business.

Straightening out this so-called concern has been long put forward as the central kingpin for Malaysia to reach a greater degree of progress. One of the significant nation-building agendas was introduced in 1991 by Malaysia’s 4th and 7th Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which is the notion of ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ or ‘Malaysian Nation’.

Recently, stepping into the final quarter of 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic, the current Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob officially launched the Keluarga Malaysia concept as a potent interplay to achieving harmony and prosperity for all people in the nation.

Malaysians have so long been introduced to all sorts of notions towards nation-building, yet to what extent do they understand enough in embracing it? Is it possible to turn that aspiration into a realisation?

Answering this question, a political sociology pundit from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Prof. Dr. Sivamurugan Pandian said, the spirit of patriotism and inclusion will spark a Malaysian’s willingness to understand and work on the meaning behind unity.

“It is hard to inculcate a perfect unity among Malaysians especially the youth, as they are moulded into hybrid identities, yet this is not impossible. To build a Malaysian Nation, we need these three values namely proud to be Malaysians, fluent in the national language, and enthusiastic to uphold the country’s constitution,” he told.

This issue was brought into the discussion at the UniKL’s dialogue entitled Sembang Merdeka Malaysia 2022 whereby Prof. Dr. Sivamurugan and the Head of Political Science Department at Sultan Qaboos University, Associate Professor Dr. Noor Sulastry Yurni Ahmad were invited as the panellist.

The continuous exertion to mediate this contestation is laudable, as that remains a doubtless aspiration and hope that Malaysians reckon on. In fact, this is also in line with this year’s National Day theme, “Keluarga Malaysia Teguh Bersama”.

“The difference that each Malaysian born with can no longer be the basis that separates us, instead we have to overcome it,” stressed Prof. Sivamurugan while he believes that the young generation no longer shows the spirit of patriotism physically. But, they express it in their own way.

For umpteen years, this multiracial and multicultural country has undertaken numerous affirmative actions to promote greater understanding through language, education, sports, and economics. Despite the daunting challenge, its people live in harmony and is one of Asia’s most friendly countries.

It is also important to note, as emphasised by Associate Professor Dr. Noor Sulastry Yurni, that we cannot compare any country’s progress with any other.

“There is no ‘solo’ movement that leads to progress including independence. In this context, we cannot compare Malaysia with other countries; instead, look at what this country needs more.

“That is why the spirit of patriotism and unity is paramount to the progress of Malaysia, which is nurtured from a sense of gratitude,” she further noted.

On this special date of 31st August, taking stock of our founding and past, and envisioning a new headway, we definitely hope and dream towards unity. Let this celebration of Independence Day opens ways for Malaysians to rekindle this nation’s history and restrengthen togetherness.

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