Yayasan 1Malaysia proposes that 16 September be observed as National Unity Day or Hari Perpaduan Nasional. There are a number of reasons for putting forward this idea.
1) While Malaysians of different ethnic backgrounds acknowledge that Unity is the key to our survival and success as a people, we have yet to accord Unity a special status in our national calendar.
2) A special day for Unity — like a special day for workers or women — will be a reminder to us of the importance of striving continuously for greater unity and harmony in our multi-ethnic society.
3) Since 16 September is the day in 1963 that Sabah and Sarawak joined with Malaya to form Malaysia, designating that day as Unity Day will help to underscore the significance of integration within the Malaysian Federation.
It is recognized that Sarawak and Sabah are two multi-ethnic states in the Malaysian Federation that have been relatively successful in maintaining an appreciable degree of harmony. Emphasizing 16 September as Unity Day would be an acknowledgement of the contribution of the two states to our national goal.
Of course, designating a day as Unity Day has symbolic — rather than substantive — value. More substantive efforts aimed at enhancing justice for all, and elevating respect for one another, regardless of ethnicity, are greatly needed, if we are to become a more united nation.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
Board of Trustees,
24 March 2010.