Kuala Lumpur (The Star/ANN) - Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak yesterday said that unity in diversity remains the pillar of Malaysia's strength, and reminded the people never to jeopardise the harmony that the nation has long enjoyed.
The premier said the country had exceeded the expectations of many in building on the success of the founding fathers and was "proof and a manifestation of promises and hopes fulfilled".
To appreciate this truth, he said, Malaysians had to look at how the country became independent 55 years ago "amid armed rebellion by the Communist Party of Malaya in an environment where the world doubted our ability to survive as a multiracial, multi-religious and multilingual nation".
In his National Day message over state-owned public broadcaster Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) last night, Najib also spoke of the transformation from an agricultural country to a nation with a diversified economy.
News agency Bernama quoted the prime minister as saying that Phase Two of the Government Transformation Programme had the potential of boosting the prosperity of the nation and bringing about wider involvement of society and more meaningful participation of non-governmental organisations and the corporate sector.
Najib stressed the importance of all segments of society embracing GTP initiatives for them to succeed.
He also said the Political Transformation Programme which struck a balance between individual freedom and national security had made democracy in Malaysia healthier and rooted as a culture that became the core of national stability.
Najib said Malaysia had grown into a moderately high-income nation and was "being steered fast towards realising its aspiration of becoming a developed and high-income nation by 2020".
"The success achieved is no cause for us to rest on our laurels," he said.
"On the contrary, it should spur us to strive for a much brighter tomorrow."
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that Malaysians regardless of race, religion or age must appreciate the true meaning of Merdeka to move the country forward.
"With the commitment of every citizen to embrace the true meaning of Merdeka, we will achieve greater progress and the dream of making Malaysia a developed nation by the year 2020," he said in his National Day message.