Celebrating “Unity in Diversity” on the 50th Malaysia Day

Eric Olsen
September 17, 2013

“We might be Malays, Indians or Chinese, but we are all Malaysians. We need each other to make Malaysia a better place to stay. Our lives may be different, but our hopes and dreams are the same. Happy Malaysia Day!” –Murali Arumugam, Intern, GPF Malaysia

Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, declaring Malaysia’s independence and democratic sovereignty.

53 years ago, Malaysia issued its declaration of independence from Great Britain. Three years later Malaysia was officially established. This year, on September 16, Malaysians celebrate their nation’s 50th birthday.

Malaysia’s history is an amazing story of cooperation and hard work. Malaysia was birthed from different ethnicities, religions and political groups who joined together in order to secure their common dream of a free and just, democratic nation.

Peter Teo, director of the Hari Malaysia project created a montage from footage of the declaration of independence and the official establishment of Malaysia. The video includes a clip of Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, declaring to 10s and 1000s of Malaysians that Malaysia “shall be forever a sovereign democratic and independent state founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people…”   The roaring cry of “mandeka” or “independence” that rises from the sea of Malaysians, stirs the hearts of even foreigners who watch.Malaysian children dressed in traditional wear at GPF Malaysia 2008.

The expressions of elation on the spectrum of faces in the short film are a reminder of the richness of the human family. It also reminds us that without recognizing our common origin and our common aspirations for universal values such as liberty, justice and happiness for all, our difference can become divisive walls.

Peter Teo comments, “…subsequent years have often seen us falter in the high principles that [Tunku Abdul Rahman] envisioned. To the extent that modern Malaysia is a mixed bag of beauty and filth.”  The ethnic tensions that arose during the past elections also illustrate that while Malaysia has done much, her work is not finished.

In December later this year, in this spirit of “Unity in Diversity,” Malaysia will host the Fifth Global Peace Convention of the Global Peace Foundation.  The convention will gather leaders from around the world, from all facets of society to discuss and work together in, “building social cohesion for sustainable peace through universal aspirations, principles and values.”Global Peace Convention 2013 Logo

But, before we get there, to our Malaysian brothers and sisters, Happy Malaysia Day!

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