KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16, 2015:

Malaysians are obsessed with the idea of racial identity to the extent that they have forgotten the significance of independence, according to panel members at the “Malaysia 52 years on: Sejiwa Sehati?” forum.

They pointed out that Malaysians must appreciate their diversity.

Malaysian Insider chief executive Jahabar Sadiq said Malaysia comprised of diverse races and could more aptly be termed a “rojak” country.

“Politics here is not logical, but emotional. People must do what is right for themselves and their country.

“It seems that Malaysians are fond of outsourcing everything — creativity, innovation and ‘blame’.”

Jahabar said people must start taking responsibility for what was happening in the country if they wanted to bring about change.

Centre for Better Tomorrow co-president Gan Ping Sieu said the question today was “What do Malaysians want?”.

He said if Malaysians continued questioning their identity, it would be difficult to move forward.

“For our future, we must have hope and a common destiny. We need to ask members of the younger generation what they can do to determine the country’s future.”

He added the time had come for all Malaysians to stop being obsessed with their identities and instead focus their energy on creating a better Malaysia.

Former chair of Advocates Association of Sarawak Khairil Azmi Hasbie said Sarawakians and Sabahans were fed up of being referred to as the “fixed deposit” states.

He claimed they were not simply states but equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia.

“There are 11 states in the peninsula, and Sabah and Sarawak. From day one we have been equal partners, but we have not been seen as that by the federal government.

“We in Sarawak continue to see intolerance spreading in the peninsula. We don’t understand why this foolishness exists.

“In Sarawak, we accept one another. Race and religion do not play an important role,” he said, adding that the country was changing but in the wrong direction.

Khairil said there was growing awareness among the younger generation that the destiny of the state was in their hands and the youngsters were learning to speak out about what they did not like.

Malaysiakini chief executive officer Premesh Chandran called on Malaysians to get out of their comfort zone if they wanted to bring about change in the country.

He said playing up racial issues would only affect the country and the people, adding that he could not understand why after 52 years there were people who were still trying to play up ethnic and racial divisions.

Premesh said the country must move forward as one or risk failure.

“Failure to help one another, or one group merely helping itself is the wrong way forward,” he said, adding that each and every Malaysian must help one another.

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