PETALING JAYA - Malaysians have done an excellent job in preserving national unity and social harmony since independence, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin.
"We should be proud of ourselves because we have successfully overcome the challenges over the past five decades to become a united and developed nation," he said in his Merdeka message.
He said tolerance and accepting each others' differences were key towards building a prosperous multi-racial society in Malaysia.
MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai in his message said Malaysians have shown the world that the country was strong and resilient in facing challenges and obstacles, such as the MH370 and MH17 tragedies.
"Malaysians, regardless of race, religion and belief, have proven to the world that we will continue to fight for and preserve our solidarity," said Liow.
In conjunction with the theme for this year's Merdeka celebrations - Di sini Lahirnya Sebuah Cinta (Here where love grows) - he called on the people to inculcate patriotism for the country.
MIC deputy president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam called on Malaysians to continue to uphold the unity and family-like bonds regardless of race or religious backgrounds while remaining true to the 1Malaysia concept.
He also urged the people to appreciate the meaning of independence and to instill the spirit of Merdeka to foster greater understanding and mutual respect of each other.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said Sabahans had shown the way in living together in peace and harmony.
"For this country to grow further, we need to think as Malaysians and work with one another to collectively bring progress to this country," he said, adding that parochial ways of thinking would block the people from striving for greater achievements for the nation.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang called on Malaysians to turn the recent unprecedented twin air disasters into a new beginning to forge national unity.
This, he said, was the greatest challenge for Malaysians, regardless of race and religion and the leaders in the various spheres in the country.
"Malaysians have undergone a number of phases, trials and tribulations that have empowered, matured and given birth to a nationwide awareness of their rights as human beings in a plural country, with differences in race, religion and culture," he said.
The United States government also extended its greetings to Malaysia.
"On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send my best wishes to the people of Malaysia as you celebrate the 57th anniversary of your nation's independence this Aug 31," said US Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement.
He said the US and Malaysia enjoyed a warm friendship and close relations and this was proven during President Barack Obama's inaugural visit to Malaysia in April.
A similar message was also sent by the People's Republic of China president Xi Jinping and State Council Premier Le Keqiang.
"The living standards of the people have kept improving. Malaysia is playing more and more important roles in international and regional affairs. As a friendly neighbour, China would like to express sincere congratulations," Xi said in a statement.