When we asked Malaysians what do they wish for in 2021, EVERYONE said they want the world to be rid of COVID-19. We want that too.
While waiting for that to happen, we feel that Malaysians should remain united and steadfast and together fight this menace.
So we asked Malaysians from all walks of life what is their Unity Wish List for 2021.
Let’s start with our government lawmakers, shall we?
From the boss of Unity herself, Datuk Halimah Sadique, the Minister of National Unity: “2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. As we reflect, it is important to look back at the positive aspects of the year, for us to learn, appreciate and make us stronger as we move forward.
“The year has truly demonstrated our strength as a nation as we continue to fight against COVID-19. Despite these difficult times, I believe that our unity, tolerance and togetherness was tested and ultimately reinforced,” said Datuk Halimah.
“As we usher in the new year, all Malaysians should look forward to renewed resolutions, positivity and an exciting journey ahead. May the year 2021 presents us with the opportunity and strength to start anew and achieve greater sense of purpose and hope.”
Her deputy, meanwhile, Senator Datuk Sri Ti Lian Ker, has a lot to say on the subject: “In fostering close-knitted communities regardless of ethnicity, understanding the importance of cultural exchange is crucial to bridging and advocating for community building. As an advocator of community builders, I would like to see more initiatives by both government and non-government agencies to provide avenues for the public to learn more about the cultures of all ethnicities in Malaysia.
“As one the popular approaches to attract attention is to merge arts with culture, I am hopeful to see more of such combination in future initiatives for the promotion of unity. Excellent examples are the mural and graffiti artwork taught by local artists organised by Johor International Youth Hub or the recent Rural Experiential Art Tourism in Johor Bahru.
“I feel that we should put more emphasis on inculcating “sense of unity or community” in the government’s physical infrastructure and amenities planning. For example, integrating spatial design concepts which promotes unity and/or community development in the design and planning of public spaces, spatial and city structuring. I am looking forward to see public spaces that represent the society, public squares that encourage multi-ethnic assembly and streets for access – together creating spaces that support the psyche of communities.
“Apart from that, I also feel that we are able to promote cross-cultural or cross-ethnic unity by preserving historical and cultural heritage of buildings or spaces, local originalities and spatial identities. Thus, I would like to see more emergence and promotion of cultural or ethnic identity in places and age-old cultural traditions akin to Batu Caves, Kota Bharu, and Kelabit Highlands,” added the Deputy Minister.
From across the South China Sea, our Sarawakian ministers too shared with us their wishlists for 2021 focussing on Unity.
According to Datuk Sri Fadillah Yusof, Minister of Works, his family comes from a multicultural background where his mother’s side is Chinese. And that has given me the opportunity to celebrate various cultural festivities.
“As the Senior Minister of Works, the Chief-Whip for Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Senior Vice-President of PBB, there is a need to balance my responsibility in the context of Federal-State relations. Such diverse portfolios have given me the leverage to nurture tolerance value between both entities.
“Having to work alongside political leaders from both the Federal and State governments, I can assure that both parties share the same vision: that is to further develop Sarawak and Malaysia as a whole. If I may add, one of my biggest concerns when it comes to the era of social media is that certain narratives are being pushed to divide us. This is why Malaysians need to be mindful of the content we choose to share in social media platforms. I pray that we will utilise this platform to spread positivity which is crucial for both our physical and mental development.”
His counterpart in the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, Datuk Sri Nancy Shukri, understandably focusses her wishlist on the promotion of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
“For 2021, let us portray Malaysians in our Love of Malaysia Fiesta, promoting our food gala, songs, dances and crafts. It’s an all-in Malaysia where all groups can show their appreciation of our diversity,” said the petite Minister.
NGOs & Political Groups
Junita Abu Bakar, Secretary-general, BeNAR Malaysia: “Malaysia’s MCO happened when our country was going through a tumultuous political moment. All of a sudden we did what we had to do when we #kitajagakita. That was a moment when we went all out to help anyone who needed help. I wish to see this happening in 2021 again, because am sure it will be a while before we get back on our feet. To make that a reality, we must work together and extend assistance across the board.”
Datuk Seri R.S Thanentiran, President, Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party (MMSP): “We Malaysians are more divided more now compared to those days. In 2021, I expect not only Malays, Chinese and Indians, but all races to disregard segregation. During times of trouble such as the COVID-19 pandemic, we Malaysians came united to fight this war with unseen forces. The frontliners were there for us without any boundaries of race and religion. Why don’t we use this COVID-19 pandemic as an experience to prosper more on the backdrop of racial unity to make a better Malaysia?”
Datuk Seri Hj Syed Ibrahim Kader, President, Kongress Indian Muslim Malaysia (KIMMA): “Unity is the key for a country to prosper. We have to gain back the Malaysia how she used to be back in the 80s. Community leaders play a crucial role here. They should lead the community towards zero racial polarisation and conduct more awareness within the community about other races’ dos and don’ts and, the sensitivities about other races to the younger generations. It will lead to a better Malaysia.”
Adli Yahya, Founder, Autism Café Project: “I wish for potential employers to truly understand our youths in terms of ability and/or needs prior to commencing employment in order to avoid possible issues in the future. Parents to put aside their own personal interests. Joining the autism advocacy is not about you, it is about these differently-abled youths.”
Citizens – When Women Have Their Say
Sarah Heider, Lawyer: “2020 truly brought a deeper meaning to Malaysians in line with the country’s current situation in a world war against the pandemic. We are learning together how unity and common purpose from every single each of us can help the country defeat COVID-19. As we wrap up a year full of unprecedented challenges to make way for 2021, although there are no guarantees for what 2021 will bring, we should still be working together in unity and solidarity to make this a year of healing through courage, hope and peace. This is not the time for unproductive political infighting and I urge all Malaysians to put our country and its people first prior to any political interest as we need each other to survive. Stay strong & stay united everyone.”
Mac Ruhayu, 90s singer and Founder of Pertubuhan Rangkaian Penjanaan Ekonomi Wanita (PRPEW): “As the Founder of an organization that sews PPE attire for the front-liners, I hope that Malaysians regardless of rank and position, as well as race and religion, continue to support the front-liners who work hard and in long hours to take care of us Malaysians. They are our final defensive fortress. If they fall, the country will be paralyzed. May they continue to be endowed with patience and strength in carrying out this noble task.”
Azlin Othman, Ambassador of Know Your Medicine and Teeth Icon for the Ministry of Health: “My hope for 2021 is that interracial unity would be preserved and the most important element is that mutual respect should be made a basis of society interaction, and avoidance of racial sensitivity to live in harmony.”
Halida Daud, Entrepreneur – HMD Wellness & Pre-Loved Branded goods: “In my small way, I try to make my clients’ dreams come true. For some of them, they have never owned a branded item. So by marketing these pre-loved branded items at a very affordable rate, the happiness on their faces is enough for me. And my clients come from different walks of life, different races and religion. All with one goal: To feel good about themselves. And I hope that my business can further expand so that I can make more clients happy. My clients and I are united that way.”
Citizens – And We Should Never Leave Out The Men
Shiraz Akram Merican Nunis, Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Student: Despite being autistic, Shiraz deeply and cares and feels for issues that affect others and himself. At school, he makes friends with the special needs students, who are often ostracised by others. He has been called a snowflake and struggled with labels, unfortunately inflicted by his teachers, one of whom remarked that “other people have it worse than you.” His wishlist: “More awareness for mental health and autism and less stigma around these two conditions. Everyone’s journey is different, nobody should be refused treatment and opportunities should be given based on ability, not race, religion or sexual orientation.”
Tuan Haji Mat Taib, Founder/CEO, Akademi NLP Malaysia: “I hope all Malaysians will continue to come together to foster unity so that the country remains peaceful and harmonious, even in a political scenario that is reprehensible, dilapidated and unstable. I woud like the political leaders to be more attentive towards the rakyat’s needs and understand the aspirations of the people. I expect them to adopt a universal sense of humanity for all citizens, rather than doing something for personal gain and to benefit only certain groups. In addition, I pray for a Malaysia that is free from libel, corruption and false promises that will only harm the country.”
Don Najib Mustafa, Former MAS Cabin Crew & President of Ex-Mas Cabin Crew Association (ECCA): “We, the Cabin Crew are color, race and religion blind when we serve our passengers. My wishlist is that all Malaysians should emulate the MAS culture: Together We Care. Or something similar to this should be Malaysia’s tagline. Till now, we are “One Big Family.”
Kos Serani, Fashion Designer: “I hope the community will better understand each other and respect the culture and religion of the people. Like in Sabah, we can still see the Malays sitting and chatting in a Chinese coffee shop and vice versa. Do not let the difference be a dividing wall for us to be friends and work together to build a more peaceful and prosperous Malaysia.”
Finally, Some Of Our Team Members Have Some Things To Say, As Usual
Azizi Khan, Advisor: “My wish for Malaysians is to get past their limitations and excel. We cannot keep blaming the situation or politics and find our own way in the world. Malaysia Boleh has become the butt of jokes, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We were once poised to be one of the top 30 economies in the world. We can get back there. Together.”
Hasnah Abdul Rahman, Editor-In Chief: “I want to improve my writings in Bahasa Melayu. I was brought up in Singapore, schooled there and my eldest brother made sure we conversed in English since we were six years old. I was happy when I moved to Sarawak, and then Kuala Lumpur, and I did my Mass Comm degree at UiTM, as my exposure to BM increased. But I am still weak in expressing myself in Malay. My speeches in BM is also not that great as I think in English. Now that I am a full-fledged Malaysian, I want to master BM better in all my daily activities. Because, let’s admit it, BM is our lingua franca and it is the best language to unite all Malaysians as it is taught in school.”
Muralitharan Ramachandran, Managing Editor: “Let us hope this year will be amazing for us all. Let’s be kind to one another among the three major racial groups. Let us be united like how we used to be once upon a time. We have all had a very difficult year. So let’s rebuild our nation by spreading love to everyone, regardless of race and religion for a better Malaysia.”
Badrolhisham Bidin, Bahasa Melayu Editor: “I wish for Malaysians to chill, there’s no need for us to quarrel over petty things like whether we can enjoy rojak at Chinese stalls or should Muslims wish Merry Christmas, etc. We used to visit Chinese friends during CNY or Indian friends during Deepavali knowing very well they understand our dietary requirements. We had friends of different races and religions coming over for ketupat and rendang during Hari Raya. Let’s turn back the clock.”
Aisha Norizan, SEO Editor: “My wishlist? Easy peasy. The youths to be opinionated and vocal in empowering togetherness and to stop being nurtured to be racist and hateful of other races. All voices are important to be heard of, yet to still speak good with kind regard for all races and religions. Regardless of how young and old we are, manners and cultural sensitivity are two things we still need to be aware of in our voices. Racist remarks are not okay, let it be in public speeches, friendly discussions or in small online social groups. In addition, our politicians to stop the behaviour of stirring racial sentiments amongst us Malaysians for the sake of politics. No matter how rough things may get, it is never okay to speak disrespectfully and in a condescending manner. Also, it’ll be amazing to see our politicians work for #racialequality, not just as their racial agenda, but as an aspiration to make Malaysians steer this country forward through unity. Diversity makes us stronger as a team. We are one family.”
Taufiq Morshidi, Director & Writer:”There should be more aid for every Malaysian, regardless of race, gender or religion, especially during this pandemic. And there should also be better access to public universities for all races, according to our racial composition, while fees for private universities can be cheaper, so that more citizens can benefit from private education if they don’t qualify to enter public universities.”
Emma Harith, Writer: “My Unity wish for 2021 is that all citizens, regardless of who they are, can live together as One, based on our Rukun Negara, able to work together, and tolerate each other’s sensitivities. And Malaysia, as a nation, must be formed not only based on justice, but also equality, so that no Malaysian is left behind in enjoying the prosperity of the country. May this nation of ours, and its people, be always blessed and protected.
Latisha Merican, Writer: “This year was a tough year. COVID-19 kept us indoors and taught us that we needed to help keep each other safe by taking precautions when going out in public. We did not celebrate hari raya and Christmas, and we will probably not celebrate Chinese New Year in a big way either. We learned that it is indeed possible for some sectors to work from home after all, and that front-liners were working hard to keep everyone alive – regardless. With a vaccine nearly available to us, we hope that we will incorporate the lessons and hardships we endured this year in moving forward. Thus, my wishes for next year are that:
All children, whether stateless, special needs, sexual orientation, born out of wedlock or underprivileged, are to be given the same benefits as others and access to necessities such as care, food, education, and above all, respect. Controversial issues such as race and religion being discussed in a respectful manner without resorting to labeling or be accusatory. Focus on the truly important issues such as providing honest, proper and transparent services to the next person.”
Bob Morshidi, Writer: “The pandemic has taught us the value of being at home, and people need to appreciate that outside of a pandemic, home is where the heart is. Going out is fun, but don’t make it the center of your being. However, there are people who go out because things are bad at home. More awareness of people who are being abused at home and easier ways to reach out. Don’t forget the forgotten people. More outreach for the elderly, homeless and orphans at centres that need help.” – New Malaysia Herald