INTRODUCTION As the son of a former career diplomat I have enjoyed the privilege of having lived in and visited many different countries during my life. I have seen and experienced the open-mindedness and love of personal liberty of America and Australia, the friendliness and community spirit of Canada, the conservatism and religion-oriented views of Saudi Arabia and Iran, and the growing economy and civic consciousness of Singapore. Malaysia possesses all these attributes and more; distilling, filtering, and blending them to create a unique Malaysian cultural heritage that has both accomplished much in its short modern history and also has much more to achieve.
RACIAL AND RELIGOUS HARMONY In these difficult modern times it is refreshing to see that a country still exists that is capable of supporting a wide range of both races and religions. Many would say that it is not perfect and I would tend to agree, but there is no denying the fact that Malays, Chinese, Indians and the indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak all live together in a tolerant and helpful spirit of community.
We all enjoy the freedom to practice Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any number of religions. What makes Malaysia even more unique is that the government officially recognizes the major religions and declares public holidays for their major festivals. In my travels Malaysia is the only country to have done this. It recognizes that religion is still an important component of society and strives to show consideration for all religions.
Of course, any talk about racial harmony also includes the "open-house" concept, in which during major celebrations and festivals the citizens of Malaysia open their houses to one and all - family, friends and neighbors. Even the Prime Minister participates in this unique method of sharing with the community -...