WHAT is patriotism? We can define it as love and respect for our homeland. It is a sense of pride in your country that drives people to work hard for the development of the nation, protect its heritage and culture, as well as safeguarding the country from external or internal threats.
Former United States politician Adlai Stevenson said: “Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”
What this means is that patriotism also equates to the dedication and sacrifice of a lifetime for the nation.
Patriotism implies a sense of belonging that binds people together. It is usually symbolised by flying the national flag and respecting the national anthem.
The Jalur Gemilang symbolises patriotism, pride, unity and devotion to the nation.
A national flag symbolises the spirit of patriotism, pride, unity and devotion to the nation.
Under the Jalur Gemilang, Malaysia attained independence and we built our lives harmoniously, irrespective of race, colour or creed.
Under the Jalur Gemilang, we strive to build a sustainable nation for future generations.
However, flying the Jalur Gemilang is not the only way to express one’s patriotism.
Patriotism can come in various forms. When we speak up and defend our country against any form of attacks, it is a patriotic act.
When we refrain from vandalising public property or littering in public, we are patriotic. When we contribute to making our community free of crime or protecting and preserving our environment, we are patriotic.
When we unite to declare war against drugs, we are patriotic. Being patriotic means contributing one’s views and opinions to areas that can bring good to the country.
In this regard, making constructive criticisms in the interest of the nation does not make a person less patriotic.
Patriotism should be inculcated in people when they are still young because when children love their country, they grow up appreciating their heritage, diversity, history and work to improve Malaysia.
Patriotism can be instilled in students through awareness, education and knowledge.
The education system should inculcate pride and belonging to the nation in students. Young children can be moulded to not look at things through race-coloured lenses.
Let them grow up together so that they can know, understand and appreciate peers of different races or religious backgrounds.
The younger generation must be made aware of the importance of unity, social cohesion and reconciliation as it is the cornerstone of the nation’s success and development.
As students are future leaders of the nation, they should be encouraged by principals and teachers to better understand one another and to have mutual respect for each other.
Parents need to cultivate and practise positive values in their lives to inspire their children to emulate good behaviour that will help them build a united nation.
Values such as honesty, integrity, tolerance, diligence, fairness, respect for elders and civic-consciousness must be upheld.
After 59 years of independence, Malaysians should be more united as we share the same hopes, aspirations and dreams.
All of us should proudly identify ourselves first as Malaysians. I have always believed that to be a Malaysian does not make a person less Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban, Bidayuh or Orang Asli.
Our diversity is our strength and it is the recipe for success in achieving development and socio-economic progress, as well as our ability to conquer adversities.
All Malaysians, especially the younger generation, need to appreciate the concept of unity under 1Malaysia where everyone accepts the uniqueness of others so that we can live together in mutual respect and trust.
It is the key to a peaceful country and the wellbeing of the people. Our youth must take initiatives to be ethnic bridge builders.
We should be mindful that the aim of Vision 2020 is not only to make Malaysia a fully-industrialised nation, but also to ensure it is developed in all aspects, including moral and ethical dimensions.
We should, on creating more moments of unity, foster national unity and solidarity.
At the same time, we should put an end to moments of disunity, such as religious and racial bigotry, as well as refrain from making provocative and incendiary statements that create tensions in society.
Unity begins in school
IT was billed as a very rare occasion as the Chinese community turned out in full force that day at Istana Besar’s Chinese Hall (Dewan China) for the royal tea party hosted by the Sultan of Johor.
The tea party was held at the hall for the first time in 65 years. The great hall is filled with plaques and memorabilia presented to previous Johor sultans by Chinese businessmen.
The gifts were reminders of the Chinese community’s contributions in the past to the development of the state, once a major agriculture producer.
Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar hosting the royal tea party at Istana Besar’s Chinese Hall on Thursday. With him is Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim. Sultan Ibrahim says multi-stream schools are a reason why racial unity is not fully realised. Bernama pic
The sultan also spoke at length on the Bangsa Johor concept and how it should be a uniting, not divisive factor, for Johor’s 3.4 million people.
But he also said in the faces of his Chinese guests, comprising 58 Chinese non-governmental organisations and Chinese associations, that a single-stream school is necessary for a united Johor and the nation.
It must be a bitter pill to swallow, coming from the Johor ruler, who has made the single-stream education system his clarion call.
He said racial unity in the country had not been fully realised and said he believed this was due to schools being separated according to race.
The sultan even cited a Malay proverb, “melentur buluh biarlah dari rebung”, to illustrate that values should be cultivated at a young age to produce a united new generation for the future. T
he sultan’s push for a single stream, which he compared with Singapore’s school system, could also put him at odds with Putrajaya.
At the opening of the Johor state assembly sitting in May last year, the sultan pointed out how Singapore’s education system had succeeded in fostering unity.
Last month, he advocated using English as the medium of instruction. The ruler has also in the past expressed disappointment that Malay students cannot speak English well, and Chinese and Tamil students cannot speak properly in Malay.
The sultan had said in one newspaper interview that he was “not in favour of the present three types of schools”, which had resulted in Chinese and Indian students who do not know the national language — Malay — and Malay students who cannot speak in English.
The issue of the country’s multi-stream school system is indeed politically sensitive. Policymakers have insisted that the multi-stream school system will stay but national schools will be strengthened to ensure greater integration among the major races.
The government is clear that its policy of upholding Bahasa Malaysia and strengthening the English language will help foster racial unity and ensure students are equally competent in English.
Still, some parents choose to turn their backs on national schools, with Chinese-stream schools remaining a top option. Some even worry about their children’s inability to pick up English in national schools.
The split in the education system is further compounded by the rising popularity of international schools in Malaysia and elite schools that teach in English and follow the UK syllabus.
After 59 years of Merdeka, there seems to be an endless debate on Malaysia’s education policy.