Malaysians must get out of the trap of suspecting, distrusting and fearing those from other races and religions, says DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang.
"Every community fears that its culture and ethnicity is facing an existential threat," he said in a statement today.
"But if all communities, whether they be Malays, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan and Iban, feel threatened by other communities, who is doing the threatening?"
Lim said it was unfortunate that not only do various ethnic groups feel threatened, but religions as well.
The Iskandar Puteri MP called for a unity campaign with the twin celebrations of Merdeka Day on Aug 31 and Malaysia Day on Sept 16 around the corner.
He said that the upcoming celebrations would be most meaningful if every Malaysian adopted the theme of “I am, you are, we are Malaysian.”
"There have been too much negative vibes in the country in the past 15 months, which have seen the rearing of the ugly heads of distrust, suspicion, fear and hate, as a result of the Internet phenomenon enabling lies, falsehoods, fake news and hate speech to travel at the speed of light to pit race against race and religion against religion."
Lim lamented this development, saying this period should have been a season of hope and expectation of a change for the better in Malaysia, following the democratic and peaceful change of government in the last general election.
"Malaysia has been described as one of the six countries where 'some light shone through these gathering clouds in 2018' against the backdrop of '13 consecutive years of decline in global freedom', but those hopes seem to have dimmed," he said.
'Fallacy to equate Harapan with BN'
Lim also addressed claims in an opinion piece by former Malaysian Bar president Ragunath Kesavan that Pakatan Harapan is similar to BN.
"It is fallacious to equate Harapan as BN 2.0, disregarding the groundwork that has been done for further institutional and political reforms and to transform Malaysia into a top world-class nation of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity, with a 'tiger economy' and far-reaching educational reforms.
"But the Harapan government must heed the increasing impatience of the people that there should be greater progress in reforms in various aspects of national life.
"One thing is for sure, that everything will come to nought if Harapan fails in its fifth pillar-promise to create a Malaysia that is inclusive, moderate and respected globally”, he said.
Lim conceded that a lot still needs to be done in every field for Harapan to be successful in establishing a New Malaysia.
"What is important is that Pakatan Harapan government must be inexorably set in the trajectory of a New Malaysia as envisioned by the five pillar-promises of Harapan's election manifesto to develop a top world-class nation of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity.
"Malaysia is the confluence of four great civilisations – Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western. Let us leverage on the best qualities and values of these four great civilisations to build a great Malaysian nation."