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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
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
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
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 )