Agong, a unifying factor not mere solidarity symbol

Agong, a unifying factor not mere solidarity symbol

KUALA LUMPUR: The institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is much more than a mere symbol of solidarity. It is one of the key factors unifying the people of the various races and religions in the country.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, said that as the head of state, it becomes his priority to unify the people in driving the country towards greater progress and prosperity.

“Unity does not come as a hybrid; it has to be an ongoing process. We cannot say that after five years, there will be no more programmes or efforts at all to keep the people together. It has to be a work in progress.

“Every one of us has a role to play. If we here in the peninsula have friends in Sabah and Sarawak, we must get close to them. We must get close to those who are far away, and get closer to those who are near to us.

“The value that I am trying to inculcate is strengthening unity among ourselves,” Sultan Abdullah said in a special interview at Istana Negara in conjunction with His Majesty’s installation as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on July 30.

Sultan Abdullah said he realises that a head of state plays a key role in creating and preserving harmony and that the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is a protector of everyone in the country.

“I will try to make this one of my missions. Even if I am able to get as far as just 10 per cent, I will regard it as a major success for me,” His Majesty said and expressed the hope that everyone will be with him in this endeavour.

Sultan Abdullah said many quarters have said that the people in the country seem to be getting more divided, but he is of the view that the situation is not as fragile as it is made out to be.

“… we must understand that we live in a multiracial country. Surely, each of the races has its own stand. This does not mean that we should be divided. Well, we can share a common interest, we should improve and enhance that common interest,” he said.

All the people should avoid using religion, differences of opinion and the way they think as elements that distance themselves from good inter-racial relations, he said.

Instead, he said, the people should maintain and consolidate their sense of identity as Malaysian citizens who have always exercised tolerance and mutual respect for one another regardless of their differences in several areas.

“Every religion and its followers have their own beliefs. I am a Malay, a Muslim. Surely, I want to uphold my religion; so, let’s not question that. At the same time, we have to understand that we live in a multiracial country and we have to understand other religions and races.

“Do not make religion something which draws us apart as Malaysians and do not politicise religion.

“This matter must be taken seriously matter. If we try to use religion in politics, we may provoke inter-religious and inter-racial hostility,” he said.

Sultan Abdullah said the government, at the same time, has to play its role by continuing to have policies which can foster the spirit of togetherness among the people to strengthen unity and harmony in the country.

Sultan Abdullah said he understood the hardship that the people have to endure and is determined to help reduce their burden.

“I will help as much as I can and, as much as I can, I will express my opinions to the government; I will speak, especially to the Prime Minister (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad).

“It is not that I want to interfere in the matter of administration (of the country), but it’s not wrong for me to give my personal opinion when I see him on Wednesdays,” said His Majesty.

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