Finding common ground based on our collective humanity

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Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On this date in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people who were peacefully protesting against oppressive apartheid laws in South Africa. This is just one of the horrors of 20th-century racism that has been left to us in the 21st-century to overcome.

I believe we can find common ground based on our collective humanity rather than remaining divided based on superficial differences. We sit at the crossroads of great civilisations and participate in ever more global exchanges. We have forged a collective destiny despite the attempts of colonialists and politicians to divide us.

By playing up fears of destructive competition and urging mutual suspicion, the politics of racial scaremongering has cast a shadow over our nation-building efforts.

Yet, we are now at a point in our national history where the appeal of racist populism is slowly but surely giving way to a politics of inclusiveness where justice, democracy and integrity are paramount.

We must overturn stereotypes and improve socio-economic mobility in order to dissolve the prejudice that lies at the heart of racism and the insecurity that forms the root of hatred.

Let us look forward to a time when we can stand shoulder to shoulder and look upon each other not as competitors, interlopers, or threats, but as fellow human beings who dream of freedom, fairness and a prosperous common future.

MOHAMED AZMIN ALI is Menteri Besar of Selangor.

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