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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 ethnicity has generally retained their ancestor’s cultural customs. 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 generations spirit in instigating the values.
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