Written by Esther Cheok
Photos by Lakshimi
Organised jointly by Kementerian Pendidikan Tinggi Malaysia and Sunway University, the major event Hari Perpaduan (Unity Day) took place on Thursday, 14th April.
A large crowd flocked outside of JC-1 Hall by 10.30am; not for no reason –there were many entertaining performances that took place. Not to mention, there were also many booths representing the different ethnic groups of Malaysia. There were booths that represented Baba Nyonas, Kadazans, Kristang, Serani, and many others. One is bound to learn a lot from them. The large crowd consisted of students from various universities, who were here to compete in the Hari Perpaduan sports friendly matches.
A media conference was held before the forum, of whom Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Higher Education, YB Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching, the guest of honour of the occasion, was present. She shared her thoughts on education in Malaysia, and stressed that it is extremely important for students to have a balanced and holistic education.
Not long after, the forum finally commenced at JC-1 Hall. Titled ‘Between Desire and Hope- Ethnic Relations and the Notion of Bangsa Malaysia’. The forum was moderated by YBhg. Prof Leong Choon Heng of Sunway University. Seated on the panel were YBhg. Prof Madya Dr Helen Ting of Institut Kajian Malaysia dan Antarabangsa, YBhg. Prof. Dr. Mansor Mohd Noor and Ybhg. Datuk Dr. Denison of Institut Kajian respectively.
The moderator begun by asking everyone present to spend two minutes thinking about what Bangsa Malaysia meant. He then asked three students to share their belief. One student from UNITAR International University mentioned that Bangsa Malaysia meant unity all the different races, such as organizing events like these’. Another student from Tunku Abdul Rahman University College shared that it wasn’t about having big events, but rather living in a united country through respecting the different races. Last but not least, a student from Sunway College shared that the ability to communicate well among the different races are important, such as reducing language barriers.
The question was then threw to the panelists. YBhg. Prof Madya Dr. Helen Ting explained that there are many dimensions of a nation, but for Bangsa Malaysia to occur, it would be important for us all to help one another in times of need. Ybhg. Datuk Dr. Denison was next to share. He described how Bangsa Malaysia can be achieved if we stopped categorizing people by race. He stated that it was important to know your roots but we should not let it be something that divides us as a nation. Lastly, YBhg. Prof. Dr. Mansor Mohd Noor expounded on how it is not possible to have a nation to be built solely upon one ethnic group. Instead, globalization and diversification in Malaysia is extremely important.
Overall, it was an event that was refreshing, enlightening and eye-opening, especially for someone who does not put more thought into the wellbeing of the country. The event has definitely encouraged many to ponder on unity and what it takes to be united as a country.