Forty years on.. - Abdullah Ahmad

...continued from page 1

In 40 years we have not succeeded in everything we set out to do but it is also true we have not altogether failed.

The process of nation building started by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra is unceasing. Malaysia's strength is that we do not possess a rigid nor distorted view of racial problems and realities; and I believe we have done and continue to do the right things to change the residual effects of British imperialism.

In retrospect, I will readily credit the British on some issues. I realise this will comfort a few and make a great many unhappy, but the fact is that we did inherit a reasonably well-functioning civil and administrative service, an apolitical armed forces which accepts civilian control unlike in some other developing countries, a flourishing democracy and an educational system which remains acceptable in the developing world.

We do have a good cause to celebrate our independence day, unlike the anguish freedom has brought to some other peoples.

All Malaysians have benefited from Merdeka so everyone should celebrate and fly the flag on Merdeka Day. Malaysians should be grateful because all the four Prime Ministers we have had did not squander too many of our dreams!

Despite our differences in racial composition, we are quite a united nation because all the races share mutual and fundamental economic interests. I foresee greater national unity, closer understanding and "Malaysianess" as long as we are sensitive to one another's concerns and fears.

Indeed we have built a sense of "Bangsa Malaysia" that shows itself quite vigorously on the hockey fields and in the badminton halls, especially when the national team plays well even if it does not win.

As a multi-religious nation - even though Islam is the official religion - we have much to !earn from each religion. If we have the sincerity with which we do things, write and speak, we can learn even more from one another. When the Muslim Malays, Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus meet in friendship, as they do, it is as patriotic Malaysians.

On this particular Merdeka day I shall be writing my 60th column for next week. When I was active in politics I did not have much time to write, except writing speeches for my boss and assessing political reports which he received from various sources. Nowadays I write no matter how busy I am.Utusan Malaysia publishes my column every Monday and I do not repeat in the Malay paper what I wrote in the Sun.

Writing is tiresome but it is great fun. Try it.

We have as a nation (and even at a personal level) come a long way since that August midnight 40 years ago. The future looks good, bright in fact.

Malaysians are fast becoming keenly aware of their rights and responsibilities, and cast as free a vote as any country in the developed world. I should know because I won two general elections and lost like all Kelantan Umno candidates in the 1990 general election.

The next century belongs to the midnight's great grandchildren. I know Malaysia will continue to flourish even if our grandchildren and great grandchildren cannot rule a larger area than the Tunku did between 1963-65.

And if I live long enough, you will find me writing on Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Christmas of 2012.

Datuk Abdullah Ahmad is Malaysia's Special Envoy to the United Nations

(This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Sun )