I could still remember the picture we were asked to colour when I was in primary school - three children of different ethnic were holding hands and waving Malaysia flag in front of some of our most iconic buildings.
Looking at the unique diversity we enjoy, I always see enormous untapped potentials. What can be more powerful than a young nation blessed with rich cultural traits, colourful history, geographical advantages and uncountable possibilities in economic, political and social development?
59 years since we gained independence and 51 years since Malaysia got his name, we have achieved so much except one: understanding each other. Unity amongst us has not been maintained when it's needed the most. At times of conflicts, races and religions would be called out as trump card to the self preservation game. However, I can't agree entirely that it is this extremist or that politician that is to blame. It's the fundamental society value that needs to be discussed. What many have been doing is destroying our one and only identity - the Malaysians.
Take businesses for example. Any successful organisation has not only strong leadership but a united workforce to rally behind a common goal. A nation that flourishes has more to do with the society's choice to stand together and build the nation hand in hand, or push each other to the wall. For a society to be resilient and cohesive, one basic rule must be obeyed - stay united or build nothing.
We should have been merdeka from poverty, income inequalities, social injustice, extremism etc by now. But we are still obsessed with proving how much is one different from another. This can do nothing but hinder Malaysia from becoming a home that, at the very least, provides sense of belonging.
There is no denying that there are differences between races, and there is no need to deny that. We tend to focus so much on magnifying the differences that we nearly forgot how to cherish them. Race is more than the different colour pencils we picked to colour "Ali, Ah Meng and Muthu" - it is the last barrier we have to break before the nation could achieve greater good!
Happy Malaysia Day, Malaysians!