On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

We have plenty to be thankful for

Wei is no ordinary shipper. He  heads China's state-owned Ocean  Shipping (Group) Co, which has the  largest bulk cargo fleet in the  world and which is rated third in  the world for container cargo.

For Wei, it was an eye-opener.  Although
he has visited Malaysia  before, the side
visits this time and  his experience in
eating durians  provided him a lasting
impression  of the country.

Like other Malaysians who are  good at
playing the gracious host,  Dr Ling
invited Wei to several  functions which
he opened, giving  Wei a glimpse of his
daily routine.

That wasn't all. Wei also had the 
privilege of seeing the pre-National Day celebrations.

Many of the things which Wei enjoyed are things that some of us  have taken for granted.

There are Malaysians who no  longer see
and appreciate the good  things we

There is so much bias among  some, that
there is no longer anything good about the country.

Even the simple act of participating in a National Day celebration is  perceived to be supportive of the  Government.

By right, there shouldn't be any 
question of political affiliations.

PAS, for example, has criticised  the
residents of Bangsar for organising a street carnival last week to  celebrate National Day.

In the latest edition of its party 
organ, Harakah, PAS equated the 
carnival to some kind of wild party 
involving liquor and the seedier 
side of life.

Those who of us who were at the 
carnival, including Datuk Seri Dr 
Mahathir Mohamad, know for a  fact
that that was not the case.

But Malaysians outside Kuala  Lumpur, who
merely read Harakah  and believe
everything it publishes, may come to wrong conclusions.

What was conveniently left out  by the
newsletter was that the carnival organisers had set up stores  promoting healthy living such as  hill climbing, mountain biking and  scuba diving. There were also nasyid and
traditional Malay performances.

The parade featured school brass  bands
and medallists of the SEA  Games. But
that was not reported  by Harakah.

More than that, what Harakah  failed to see
was how such a carnival successfully broke down the  walls of ethnicity.

The event proved that Kuala  Lumpur and
the rest of the country, given a chance, can truly be a  melting pot for the different cultures and
ways of life of the different races.

While ethnic identity is still  somewhat
important to Malaysians,  events such as
the Bangsar carnival reflect that tolerance and acceptance of each other's
differences is the essence in being able 
to live peacefully together.

Supporters of PAS may no longer  have
good things to say about Malaysia but there are many from  neighbouring countries who would  risk their lives to make the desperate
journey here.

All they want is to live and work  hard
and to enjoy the standard of  living
which Malaysians enjoy.

That many of us can afford to  own houses
and cars and go on occasional holiday trips shows that  our standard of living has gone up.  The cost of living has been manageable.

Many foreigners make their trips  here to
work because they believe  in what Malaysia
can offer  just  like many of our forefathers.

Like them, we just want to eke  out a
living, take our family out and  be able
to pay our bills on time.  That's not too
much to ask.

There's nothing shameful in asking for political stability and economic
prosperity. These are human  rights and

Dissenting views, conflicts and  demands
for change are not wrong.   But the
greatest fear is that there  are many who
want to go beyond  that  to change our entire system  and lives all together.

This has resulted in some fear  among the
people because drastic  changes will
always bring uncertainties.

PAS, for example, wants to impose on us its rigid and orthodox  standard of living.

For Malaysians, the question is:  are we,
living in a multi-ethnic and 
multi-religious society, ready for 

Malaysians should not be made to  feel
guilty if they just want to have  a good
time on National Day and  other

And as our Prime Minister pointed out to Kelantan Mentri Besar  Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat in their  teleconferencing on the eve of National Day,
dikir barat should be  enjoyed by all and
not banned.

Those of us who cherish a liberal 
lifestyle must never compromise 
on our principles of maintaining a 
secular system.

In wanting to maintain that, Malaysians should realise that it is not  an effort to undermine anyone's religious

We must be allowed to pursue the  faith
we believe in and at the same  time learn
to appreciate the religion of others without any fear of  compulsion.