2014 has been a year of painful memories, with three airline tragedies claiming hundreds of lives. And now, we are hit by one of the worst floods in recent times. Our prayers are with the families who lost their loved ones in the tragedies. We pray for the flood victims and hope their problems will be over.
It is heartwarming to note that each time we face such a tragedy, there is an outpouring of generosity from Malaysians who send financial assistance as well as food and other supplies to disaster areas.
All this speaks well for the spirit of togetherness and sharing among all races and is an impressive indication that, in times of trouble, there are no boundaries in helping the victims.
The compassion and generosity shown in the government’s and the people’s rescue and relief efforts are a great example of 1Malaysia in action.
Another encouraging symbol for unity among Malaysians was when many groups supported the moderate stand taken by the group of 25 influential Malays (G25) on religion in an open letter to the public.
The open letter came at an opportune time and unlocked the suppressed thoughts and feelings of the majority in this country. It speaks volumes about the need to be rational in the application of religious laws and be sensitive to human rights issues and the rule of law to preserve the social and cultural diversity of the country, which has been one of our greatest assets.
There is no use being obsessed about religion and race. The lifestyles of Muslims are their business.
It is more productive to concentrate on the business of managing the economy in the face of the competition that we are facing as globalisation sweeps across continents.
Countries that are divided will be left behind. Those that have carried out reforms will survive and prosper.
Malaysia has done several reforms in recent years but there is still more to do.
For example, as explained in the New Economic Model, we have to improve integrity in government, strengthen the education system, grow the talent pool and review race-based policies to make them inclusive of all races — all these will improve our competitiveness and meet the challenges of the global economy. Although growth is important, we have to deal with rising income inequalities, the social problems of urban life and protecting the poor and provide them with adequate safety nets.
On top of that, we have to worry about national security, in view of rising terrorism threats and concerns over public safety in our cities and towns.
Our leaders must concentrate on these issues to keep the economy moving ahead and achieve a high-income status by 2020.
I am hoping that, with the voice of the majority now coming out forcefully to encourage our leaders to do the needful, Malaysia will take the necessary steps to uphold the system of constitutional democracy and adhere to the division of powers between the Federal and state governments, as provided for in the Federal Constitution on the administration of Islamic legislation and its enforcement on Muslims.
The supremacy of the Federal Constitution in protecting our human rights and the basic freedoms must be strongly supported by the judiciary.
This is most important in our efforts to become an exemplary part of the international community and, now that we are a member of the United Nations Security Council, the government has a duty to prove that we deserve the seat.
Wishing all a Happy New Year for 2015.