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Malaysia is a Southeastern Asian country which is an incredibly diverse country with many different ethnic groups living in the country. These includes Malay, Chinese and Indians. People from each origin has preserved their ancestor’s cultural traditions. This multicultural context makes Malaysia a highly rich society with various lifestyles, beliefs, languages, values, foods, culture and customs. It is an undeniable fact whereby an advanced society is closely related to the practice of patriotism which is important in shaping the society in a country. History of Malaysia upholds that the struggle to set free their homeland is due to the strong practice of values and the spirit to be a good citizen themselves.
The struggle faced by Tok Janggut and his peers of the 19th century until the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj to get our nation the independence that has been long waited for are remarkable. The history of the rise of the nation from colonialism in order to build a free and independent country with the spirit of building a nation called Malaysia. However, as the country’s economy progresses and as our society becomes better-heeled, courtesy, lack of spirit, values and ethics seem to be taking a back seat as these values are the bedrock of a civilized society. Apart from that, a lot more remains to be done to instill these virtues among Malaysians, predominantly the young generations.
The spirit of Malaysian needs to be cultivated in the younger generation so that they are proud of being a Malaysian and having a spirit of loyalty, a sense of belonging to the country, besides being disciplined and continue to strive for the development of the country. Thus, it is the responsibility of all racial and ethnic groups in Malaysia to acquire the spirit for the sake of harmony and progress of the country. It is inevitable a huge challenge in giving appreciation to all the people in a country which has different races.
There are many challenges in order to implement values among younger generation. First and foremost, the major challenge is the low patriotic spirit and lacking in practice of values among the younger age of group people which are the inheritors of the future leader. Younger generations prefers to be individualistic and tend to give importance in their self-interest more than national interest. They are more concerned about their own race or ethnic group over other races and are willing to do anything to ensure that the people of the same race get what they want socially, economically and politically.
A racial riot in Malaysia that occurred on May 13th, 1969 as there was a sense of not being satisfied with other races. This incident serves as a lesson to all races in Malaysia so as not to be too selfish or too concerned with their own kind, but instead to be concerned with national aspirations, though prejudice in a multiracial society is inevitable on the issues of identity, namely language, religion and culture. For instance, fostering racial unity in Malaysia might be mistaken by some as an attempt to expand the supremacy of Malay nationalism. If we are serious about wanting a better future for this nation and making this the best home for all, then we have to start thinking of ourselves as Malaysians and not whatever race or identity based on our forefathers homelands. Being Malaysian first doesn’t means we cease to be Malay, Indian, Chinese but that our identity is now firmly anchored to our nation.
In addition, the issue of racial and ethnic relations within various communities poses a challenge to implement the values. While many professions and commercial and industrial enterprises have become multi-ethnic compared to the situation four decades ago, non-formal interaction within the work place is still along ethnic lines. Besides, the level of multi-ethnic solidarity in the country’s education system is still low even though younger generations showed a positive attitude in multi-ethnic relations. The ethnic relations in higher education institutions are still weak whereby the students do not feel comfortable when conquering the same area, even if they know each other. This may be due to the taboos and their religious practices which differ that makes then unwillingly to do so. The issue of race and national integration continues to be a thorn in the flesh to the country while nationalism increasingly falters.
The third challenge is language. Language plays an important role in forming unity. However, the use of Malay language among non-Malay is rather low. It is irrefutable element that the use of a single language in a country will form a solidarity and peace when people are using a similar language for interaction among the various races. Younger generations are more comfortable in using their mother tongue or English in their daily communication. They need to take pride in our National language, Bahasa Malaysia. Although the younger generations are capable of being fluent in multiple languages, yet they do not seem to take Bahasa Malaysia as a language that gives Malaysia a pride, and what’s more, it is one of the easiest language to grasp.
The fourth challenge is a lack of appreciation among young people of all races towards the services performed by the freedom fighters as the younger generation does not recognize the former fighters. Being a good Malaysian does not only mean by knowing the national language or the national anthem, but also recognizing our former fighters. The younger generations seem to forget them easily as they are enjoying the independence. Perhaps only when the emergency period occurs again or communist confrontation happens again as before, then probably the members of the armed forces would be much more appreciated. Consequently, this leads to lack of compassion and love for their own country.
The fifth challenge is the lack of confidence among younger generations to practice the Malaysian values in terms of honesty and loyalty towards the country where they are still hesitant to accept the concept of racial diversity. They are not ready to foster and develop self-esteem in order to serve the homeland and the nation, being ready to sacrifice, having a highly fighting spirit for truth and justice to uphold the position, status and the influence of the state and the nation. Being a good Malaysian citizen is not just having a feeling of love and affection towards the country but it should also be evident through actions and having the willingness to sacrifice anything for the sake of national interests. Therefore, in Malaysian perspective, the willingness of a person, irrespective of race, a person readiness and ability to commit to the nation as well as one’s awareness and knowledge of certain government institutions and national symbols are entirely neglected.
The final challenge is globalization. Borderless world may result in a foreign culture getting into the country easily. The negative influence of foreign culture may easily influence the younger generation that causes difficulties to inculcate their spirit among them. The younger generation now is complacent with the progress of information and technology, the development of which is supposed to be beneficial in order to improve the application of the Malaysian values.
Several efforts has to be commenced to recuperate our Malaysian younger generation’s spirit in instigating the values. Therefore, they must first have the nature of tolerance in accepting differing views of other people and fairness towards the people who hold different views. It is the capacity for the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs as well as appreciating the ironic diversity of our world cultures. Tolerance and respect are two vital words that should be borne in the mind of multi-religious, multicultural and multi-linguistic society. They should not only preach tolerance, but to put into practice of tolerance in every possible occasions. Without the practical application of the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect for one another, the ugly venom of discrimination, ridicule and hate would pour forth in jets. This, in turn, would destroy the peace and tranquility of the society and the nation.
Secondly, multiculturalism system must be implemented in every youngsters. It is a system of beliefs and behaviors that recognizes and respects the presence of all diverse groups in an organization or a society. This will bring together human beings from a variety of cultures to enable them to reach their fullest potential. On top of that, this may help stability. Living in a multicultural society will require a high level of understanding and respect that will address racial differences effectively in the curriculum, thus youngsters can be exposed to positive attitudes towards racial differences. Multiculturalism in Malaysia will be able to maintain national integration in which all their various cultural communities could live alongside each other while maintaining their own original identities. Multiculturalism will prepare the younger generations to prepare themselves in an interdependent world and develops a positive self-concept.
The third implications is through Education System. To achieve unity, only one type of schools should be established, which should be done by improving the performance of the schools to confirm all the races. The Ministry of Education (MOE) has listed six attributes that are to be produced and one of them is national identity. History subject has also been made a compulsory subject in order to sensitize students about the history of Malaysia. This is crucial as history teaches the pride in being Malaysian, the spirit of loyalty to the nation, the spirit of we-ness, discipline, industriousness and productivity. Japan country should be taken as an example whereby they practice and embrace beliefs, cultures and values which is taught in the education system of their country which is the key behind their great success in instilling the values among younger generations.
Ministry of Education in Malaysia has to produce a world class education and ensure the development of the individual’s potentials by inculcating the values and ethics which ultimately shape the nation’s character and growth. The seeds of national unity must be sown among the young and must be taught the benefits of peaceful co-existence. Schools are the second home to indoctrinate moral values in order to raise disciplined and well-mannered citizens. Unity must be imbued at an early stage, as today’s younger generation still have no prejudice against friends of different races, languages and religions.
The philosophy of education should call for a different perspective of what a human being is and how to draw out the potentials in each and every one. This philosophy is translated into the school curriculum, which encourages the development of balanced, well-rounded, trained and skilled individuals. Educations should promote the development of inner peace in the minds of students so that they can establish the qualities of tolerance and compassion firmly. It should also cultivate feelings of solidarity and equality at the national level. Although education is the responsibility of the federal government, each state has an education department to help coordinate educational matters in their respective states. The education system is highly centralized, particularly for primary and secondary schools, with state and local governments having little say in the curricula or other major aspects of education.
Campaigns must be started from school where courtesies and noble values must be taught in order to be a good Malaysian. Moral Education in school should be reinforced to emphasize the importance of learning and practicing the noble values such as physical and mental cleanliness, justice, moderation, diligence, compassion, freedom, self-reliance, courage, respect, rationality, humility, honesty, love, gratitude, cooperation and public spiritedness. I believe that instilling good manners, moral and noble values should start at home and kindergarten and reinforced in primary school.
As a society, we have to build communities imbued with a caring spirit, moral awareness and spiritual enlightment. It is more than saying “please” or “thank you”, it is about how we treat each person regardless of age, sex, race, background, religion or political creed. This is especially relevant in the multi-ethnic society of Malaysia. In fact, we stand a much better chance of getting problems and conflicts resolved when we are courteous, understanding and treat people with respect.
Next, programs that call for the involvement of youth need to be empowered, especially the National Service Training Program, which is need to be held again by improving its execution so that the desired goal is achieved. Similarly, the Rakan Muda (Youth Partnership) programs need to involve young people of all races. Ethnic interaction can promote a realistic sense of inter-ethnic integration. This is because when groups work together toward common goals, further oppurtunities are presented for developing and discovering similarities of interest and values. By adding the programs, the identity of the younger generation can be established.
In addition, the younger generations has to be familiar with National Ideology (Rukunegara) which is one of the initial reactions to the riots of 1969 as it is the nation’s ideology. Being familiar with the statements of Rukunegara, it will provide the direction for education, national unity, justice, liberty, diversity and progress as it declares that Malaysian are dedicate to achieve a greater unity of all its people, regardless of their ethnic origins or religion affiliations. The principles of Rukunegara are faith in god, loyalty to king and country, upholding the constitutions, the rule of law and good behavior as well as morality.
Furthermore, the role of the printed or electronic mass media has to be strengthen. The contents of the mass media should be friendlier to users as well as publishing programs that can generate the spirit of a Malaysian in a multi ethnic society. It could be said that through educating and informing, the media thereby make the society or the nation as well aware of the importance and need to undertake certain process of implementing Malaysian values. Medias are seen as virile tools of applying persuasive efforts to influence people’s actions towards a particular direction. The mass media are therefore comprehended for their role in furnishing the public with necessary information to achieve the nation goals and further inculcate younger generations with Malaysian values and spirit.
Lastly, perhaps younger generations will uphold the values and love towards their nation through legislation. A stricter punishment should be given to those who insult the country and the nation itself or those who attempt to influence others not to love the country as well as other offenses that may lead to negative actions which might threaten the national security. Younger generations also must be able to think critically and decide correctly by gathering information from different sources and act on them as information is just a click away.
In the nutshell, values and the spirit of a Malaysian is very crucial and valuable element in developing a society with consists of various races and ethnicities. The values has always been a part of our society that keeps our country strong and united which leads to freedom, pride, identity, honor, justice, dedication and support. Everybody must have patriotic feeling to make the country and themselves exist in good hands.
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