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Malaysia is well known for its cultural diversity. Since the formation of Malaysia in 1963, most of the ethnic groups in the country lived together in peacefully and harmoniously. Regardless of our background and origins, we can still openly accept the differences between other ethnics with less friction.
What do we know about the term of ‘plural society'? The word ‘plural' itself refers to more than one person and the word ‘society' refers to the people in a country (Waters and Bull 2007). According to J.S Furnival, he states that the concept of plural society is a catagorisation of ethnic groups who live under one political unit but are not intergrated (Hj. Mohd Jali, et al. 2008). Based from J.S Furnival concept, plural society is a society which consist of multiracial groups lived together in one country yet these groups are not united among each other (Hj. Mohd Jali, et al. 2008). This is due to the involvement of another perspective and colonisation of the country.
Every nation around the world agreed that unity and integration plays an important role in the development of the country and its people. Unity is the greatest asset in our country, Malaysia because without the unity harmony cannot be benefit among the people. The importance of unity is what makes our country to be able to gain independent. Before independence, our people have gone through many sufferings to freed us from colonised. Together, from the unity and integration of the people among the Malays, Indians and Chinese we have been able to be independent country. The implication of it causes us to live in peaceful and harmony without involvement of outsiders.
Secondly, integration among the ethnics can help us to avoid ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism refers to the belief in the inherent superiority of one's own ethnic group or culture (Dictionary.com n.d.). Ethnocentrism in the society is what triggers the hatred against the particular group of people. Imagine that when everyone is being selfish and think that their background is much better than others, surely there will be social issues happen between the ethnics. Therefore, before these problems occur in the society we need to sustain unity among us to avoid ethnocentrism to happen.
Last but not least, the importance of unity can bring benefit to us through the country's economic growth. The unity and integration shown by the society can actually attract people outside our country get to know and understand that we Malaysian live together in one despite of our differences. Nevertheless, not only this has allowed the economic growth through tourism industries, it also allowed us to shared and gained knowledge from others. Thus, unity boosts our economic growth at the same level as other countries.
Malaysia government has put a lot of effort to promote the unity among its people. One of the efforts that they have put on to promote unity is through the sharing of political power. The government shared the political power among all the ethnics so that everyone has the equal power in the political process. Government Barisan National's party have been a success in ruling the country since all ethnics are involved in making decision. The second effort government has done is the setting of democratic government. As a Malaysian, we have the freedom or rights to voice out our opinion but it is not completely limitless. Since the government implement that “the government of today is the government of the people”, we can voice out our feedback to make our demands. This helps us to express our social welfare needs to those we refer to and also strengthen the good inter-ethnic relationship.
Sound economic growth is the third effort to foster integrity. Rapid economic development in our country enables the economic gap between the societies to be diminished (Hj. Mohd Jali, et al. 2008). Every ethnic have the opportunities to be economically distributed among each other so that there would not be any disregard. The government also encouraged the development of private sectors through free market (Hj. Mohd Jali, et al. 2008). By having this, cooperation between the government and private companies can benefit both parties and creating business opportunities thus causing economic growth in country. Cultural compromise also one of the efforts that the government have made. Based on the statistics, 92% Malaysian say they are happy to live in Malaysia because they get to enjoy different cultures. (Merdeka Centre Ethnic Relations Perceptions Poll) (CPPS Policy Factsheet n.d.). Although in Malaysia, Bahasa Malaysia is the national language, other languages are accepted and used widely in the country (Hj. Mohd Jali, et al. 2008). Not only languages, cultures, traditions and believes as well still maintained and practiced in the society (Hj. Mohd Jali, et al. 2008). Malaysia is indeed a blessed country as all the races are willing to accept and shared their cultures to others.
As an individual, we are responsible to carry out our duties as a Malaysian in order to create the unity. For me, the most important thing to mould the elements of unity in my daily life is respect. “Treat others as you want to be treated”, this is the quote based on the term of the golden rule (Gensler n.d.). Likewise, respect others if you wanted to be respect by others. We should respect other ethnics although they are different from us so that they will also respect us for what we are. Accepting other differences is also part of building the unity. Be open-minded and acknowledged others cultures, religions and traditions are the strength of the country. By doing so, friction can be reduced if there is an understanding between the people. Finally, love one and another is the strength of the country. When everyone care and treat others well, we can lived together harmoniously and peacefully in our country. Let us together build the unity in us and among all the ethnics in Malaysia so that the tragedy of 13 May 1969 would not to be repeated.