November 03 , 2002

Govt Taking Steps To Strengthen Racial Ties

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 (Bernama) -- Racial ties especially among the younger generation have slackened and the government is taking steps to check this unhealthy trend, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
"Malaysia will not progress if there is no unity and understanding among the people. For the sake of the country, the government will take several measures to promote interaction among the races, especially the younger generation, to enhance harmony among the people," the Prime Minister said.
He said the government realised that of late ties among the races had loosened, especially the younger generation who tended to mix with people of their own race.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia needed to build a society that could live, work and play together because "this is the basis of Malaysia's success".
"We cannot be complacent with our success. Instead we should continue making efforts to scale greater heights," he said in his Deepavali message.
Dr Mahathir said although Malaysia was acknowledged as an Islamic country, the government had never neglected the other races and their rights to practise their own religions and cultures were enshrined in the constitution.
"Actually, this guarantee is consistent with Islamic teachings. The minority races in this country need not feel threatened or fear losing their identities," he said.
Dr Mahathir said although Malaysians were of various races practising different religions, languages and cultures, the spirit of unity and cooperation among the people had brought the country peace and prosperity.
"Our differences have made us a society rich in culture. This diversity is also a unifying factor which impresses foreigners," he said.
In conjunction with Deepavali, which Hindus celebrate to mark the triumph of good over evil, Dr Mahathir hoped that the people would strengthen their resolve to intensify efforts to foster racial harmony and unity.
"We have worked hard since our country gained independence and have seen the fruit of our success in developing the country and the people fairly and equitably.
"Let's take a cue from this and appreciate the blessings of life as lucky Malaysians," he said.
Dr Mahathir reminded the people to maintain the unique Malaysian tradition of holding "open house" on such occasions to strengthen ties among the people.