Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Nazrin Shah said building a multiracial and multi-religious nation is a complex, complicated and ongoing process.
Sultan Nazrin, who is also performing the functions of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, said that various unity terms had been introduced with a variety of slogans that were creatively crafted, but they still did not show their full impact.
"In fact, the slogans toward moulding united citizens in a sovereign state, lately, are raising doubts, inviting controversies and are increasingly being polemicised and politicised.
"This development is very worrying," he when launching the 135th anniversary celebrations of the Perak Museum in Taiping today.
He also said the content component in developing united citizens and inspiring the patriotic spirit should be given a balanced emphasis, in line with the pursuit of economic development and physical infrastructure.
"In the current scenario, such needs become increasingly urgent," he said.
In this regard, Sultan Nazrin said museums could assist the country in building a multiracial, multi-religious and multi-political society that is united and loyal to the country under the auspices of the royal umbrella of the Agong.
He said that a museum was built, materials processed for exhibition and sequences of stories were presented to achieve a specific goal of injecting the spirit of statehood and patriotism.
"It can inject the spirit of statehood; the spirit of patriotism; breathe the spirit of courage; spirit of heroism; cultivate the spirit of unity, the spirit of unification, and depict the negative image of the enemy," he said.
'Aura of mystery'
Sultan Nazrin said that a museum needed to meet the needs of the diverse backgrounds of the visitors, who were more critical in their thinking and have a high degree of literacy and hopes.
He added that in line with modernisation and globalisation, passive visitors who simply looked at the exhibits had changed to visitors who were inquisitive and interactive.
"Museums should not be admired for artefacts, aesthetic characteristics or aura of mystery, but should, in displaying materials and presenting events, attempt to arouse past nostalgia and stir the memory.
"It also has the power to exhort the spirit of realisation – to unravel the spirit of awareness, through the exhibits that highlight various tragedies, especially the tragedies that sacrificed many lives and destroyed lives," he said.
He said the original function of the museum – to preserve and safeguard the country's heritage – was now shifting to the role of research, education, marketing, technology and innovation.
"Collections of artefacts are just stiff objects if they are exhibited or stored without a well-thought-out story, based on careful research.
"The artefacts are stiff and dead, they must be given breath, so that they can be brought to 'life', able to interact, connect, and give understanding to the current life," he added.