Let the best in Thirukkural and Confucianism on how to be a good human being be part of the Malaysian heritage for Malaysia to be example to the world of the success of Alliance of Civilisations
I am like a fish out of water, launching this new book in Tamil by my friend and comrade of over fifty years, K. Siladass, which is a collection of his short stories in Tamil.
I do not understand Tamil, but before the function, I was privileged to be given a copy of Thirukkural with translation in Malay and English by Dr. Singaravelu Sachithananthan, former head and professor of Indian Studies, University of Malaya – which must the first book of its kind in the world.
This highlights the powerful symbolism of this occasion, that Malaysia is a confluence of four great civilisations in the world – Malay/Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western – and Malaysia must strive to become an example to the world of the success of the Alliance of Civilisations instead of being a failure because of the Clash of Civilisations.
I browsed through the Thirukkural couplets, which is some 2,300 years old, dealing with everyday virtues, ethics and morality, which had influenced scholars across the ethical, social, political, economic, religious, philosophical and spiritual spheres like Tolstoy, Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer.
Let the best in Thirukkural and Confucianism on personal and government morality, in particular on how to be a good human being, be part of the Malaysian heritage for Malaysia to be example to the world of the success of the Alliance of Civilisations.
Let us benefit from the best values and teachings of these great civilisations which meet in confluence in Malaysia to build a great Malaysian civilisation which is inclusive and all-encompassing, instead of being narrow-minded, regressive and exclusive!
Malaysia as two choices – become a success because of the Alliance of Civilisations or become a failure because of the Clash of Civilisations.
Tonight’s event reminded me of a public debate I had 51 years ago in Kuala Lumpur, where I argued that Malaysian literature is not based on the language it is written, whether Malay, English, Chinese or Tamil, but whether it expresses Malaysian consciousness, identity, purpose and loyalty.
This was also the occasion where I made public reference to the large corpus of political literature which inspired the Indian independence movement and the great Indian personalities, like Tilak, Aurobindo, Gandhi, Nehru, Subbas Chandra Bose, C.R. Das, Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Sarojini Naidu and Dr. S. Radhkrishnan.
Let us affirm on this occasion that Malaysia’s racial, linguistic, cultural and civilisational diversity is our asset or strength and not our liability or weakness, and that we should unite to achieve the great Malaysian dream as all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, have shared destiny in Malaysia.