My Say: Focus on commonalities, not on differences

This article first appeared in Forum, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on July 1, 2019 - July 07, 2019.
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We have different backgrounds that shape us — different exposures, philosophies, beliefs and perspectives that lead us to different methods and applications. These differences often result in disagreements between others and us. Because of these differences, we cannot expect everyone to agree with us. Is it possible to remain on amicable terms while continuing to disagree?

To achieve this, we must try to focus on our commonalities and not on our differences. Every Malaysian should learn this particular skill of “agreeing to disagree”. We must agree that sometimes, people aspire to reach the same result but each has a different methodology. For instance, one person may insist that four plus five is nine, but another person may assert that four plus three plus two is nine. Both attain the same result with a difference in approach. Just as it is okay for people to take different routes to get to the end destination, it is also okay for people to differ in opinions, perspectives and methods.

I believe that the art of agreeing to disagree is also a very important recipe for nation-building. When we have a bunch of great minds put together, we will definitely not have a singular perspective of things, which can limit what we can do. Different minds can bring diverse perspectives. Couple this with a focus on achieving the main objectives instead of fighting over insignificant issues and we can do a lot more and accomplish great things. In fact, we should celebrate our diversity for, with that, we can build a greater Malaysia.

Therefore, I would like to implore all Malaysians to focus on what is common among us. Each one of us shares the aspiration to build a family, enjoy a decent living, provide education, celebrate humanity and so on. Let us find the commonalities between the people whom we work with, between one company and another, and between neighbours and communities.

When we are united, we can do so much for this nation. But when we focus on what is wrong with this person or that person, or with everything around us, there is a lot of negativity that will steer us away from the more important things in our life. This negativity can also lead to destroying our great nation.

It is a lot easier to destroy than to build. Whether it is building a family, a community, a company or a nation, it takes a lot of thinking, focus, commitment and hard work. That is why not many are able to build. I know it for a fact as it has taken me years of hard thinking, unwavering dedication and arduous work to build the credibility of Sedania Group, but I am also aware that it can take a mere second to destroy it.

Looking at it from a broader perspective, it has taken Malaysians more than six decades to build this nation through hard toil, sweat and tears. The international recognition and credibility built include, but is not limited to, being known as a global leader of the Muslim world and having one of the tallest buildings in the world to becoming a preferred tourist destination worldwide— Malaysia, Truly Asia. Is our credibility built over those years still intact?

Our country needs a strong economy and every rakyat would agree with that. But unfortunately, the country has enemies, domestic and foreign, out to disrupt us and they can do that within a short time and with less effort if we allow them to.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, the saying goes. While I recognise that there are many people with a mission to protect the interests of the nation, the economy and the rakyat, there are also people from various quarters who put their own personal agenda as a priority, especially for power and material gain.

If we focus on the greater agenda to build the nation, we will not become the victim of squabbles or of gutter politics. If we talk about politics, it should be a mechanism to build and make the country great. Malaysia should not be put at risk just because of differences and squabbles between political parties. They must not compromise by selling Malaysia off in their aim to win their political fight. If they do, they are only delivering the win to the enemies of the nation.

Both sides of the divide, whether it is political, faith, race or others, should come together in the interest of Malaysia. Never risk family, faith, country and humanity because of one’s party. If we fight and lose the political battle, we congratulate the winning party and wish them well to build the nation further. But if we are the victors, we do not put down the losers. We do not deny the good things that they have done. We do not cause troubles that will destroy the nation. We do not embarrass the nation or ruin reputations such as making videos go viral with hideous intentions. We do not fall short and sell ourselves.

If we want a country of greatness, of great talents and achievers, we must put our differences aside. At the end of the day, it does not matter if we win or lose. If Malaysia wins, everybody in this great nation wins. By that same token, if we take steps that contribute to the destruction of Malaysia, then everybody loses.

Admittedly, building is going to take hard work and dedication. But it is worth the effort because if we build something out of nothing, such as a company, a product or a nation that is sustainable, then that will become our legacy.


Datuk Azrin Mohd Noor is the founder of Sedania Group, an innovator, author and IP expert

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