MALAYSIA can reach a developed status by 2025, albeit a bit slow, if the peace and unity of this country continue to prevail.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this during his speech at the Premier Unity Gathering 2019 that was organised by the Penang State Goodwill Consultative Council (Majlis Perundingan Muhibbah Negeri Pulau Pinang – MPMNPP) at the Dewan Sri Pinang today.
The event was also held in conjunction with the state-level Unity Day as well as the 15th anniversary of MPMNPP.
He stressed the importance of maintaining unity, saying the Government would work towards closing the gap between the rich and the poor in pursuit of a high income status.
In 1991, Dr Mahathir introduced Vision 2020 for the country to aim to be a self-sufficient industrialised nation by 2020.
Dr Mahathir added that the spirit exemplified by the gathering of people in different traditional attires and faiths at the auditorium should be spread across the country.
“If you don’t know each other, you don’t love each other. Such a meeting as this will enable all the people here to know and understand each other,” said Dr Mahathir.
“If you know each other, you will lose the feeling of antagonism. We can ensure multi-racial Malaysia can still remain peaceful and will achieve a high status. The people can put aside their differences and work towards the greater good of the country.”
Also present were Dr Mahathir’s wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and his wife Tan Lean Kee, former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman and MPMNPP chairman Tan Sri Mohd Yussof Abdul Latiff.
Dr Mahathir added that the state, administered by a combination of leaders from different races, is also a good example for the country.
“I remember when I followed my father to Penang as a small boy, I used to see horse-drawn carriages. But today, the state has so progressed so much and has so many tall buildings, other facilities and two bridges connecting the mainland and island.”
Dr Mahathir said the world is surprised why Malaysians of various races and backgrounds can live in peace and harmony unlike many other countries.
He said even some countries in Africa, the Pacific region and even closer to home, like Myanmar, have seen upheavals and riots with the indigenous people chasing away ‘pendatang’ (immigrants).
“They’ve no tolerance. They kill each other. In Myanmar, the Rohingya were chased away and cruelly dealt with. Even the United States President Trump is building a high wall to prevent others from entering the country. In Europe, the refugees are having problems.
“But not in Malaysia. We had wise and extraordinary leaders like Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lok and K.L. Devaser who agreed to cooperate and come under the Alliance party. So much so, Britain was willing to give us the independence.”
Although there was racial riot in 1969, Dr Mahathir said it was only for a brief spell as the leaders of different communities quickly agreed to contain the situation whereas violence in some other countries continued for a long time and caused much ruins.
He also said Malaysia has had 14 general elections but never seen violence like in some countries where there would be killings.
Apart from being a peaceful country, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia should also be thankful as it is also blessed without natural disasters like the tsunami that hit Acheh, volcanic eruptions in the region and the typhoons that struck the Philippines.
At the end of the celebration, Dr Mahathir, Chow and Koh joined Yussof Latiff and other MPMNPP members in a cake-cutting ceremony to mark its 15th anniversary.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Ahmad Adil Muhamad
Video by Alissala Thian