KOTA KINABALU - Education must never be politicised as it is the basis to strengthen unity among the nation's diverse communities, says Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The Prime Minister said Chinese vernacular schools should stress on the learning of Bahasa Malaysia while bumiputra students should be encouraged to study Mandarin.
"Let us move ahead without politicising everything," he said when opening the 25th congress of Liberal Democratic Party led by its newly-elected president Datuk Teo Chee Kang yesterday.
He said Barisan Nasional was committed to retaining Chinese schools, adding that it was a reflection of the nation's prevailing culture of acceptance.
"Which countries outside of China have Chinese schools? There are none, except in Malaysia," he said, noting that it showed Malaysia's multi-culturalism as espoused by the nation's founding fathers.
He said, in return, the Chinese and other communities should be sensitive to the Malays and be loyal to the country.
"This is what mutual respect is about," Najib said, adding that moderation was the key to ensure that "everyone has a fair place under the Malaysian sun".
Najib said as Finance Minister, he had strived to be as fair and equitable to all Malaysians in terms of distribution of wealth.
He noted that under the Budget 2015, those in the low-income group would continue to receive the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) cash assistance while the middle class would enjoy lower income tax.
Admitting that there were still challenges facing the country, Najib said they could be overcome because the country's fundamentals remained strong.
"One of the fundamentals is that we continue to live in peace and harmony. We have had 51 years of peace, which money cannot buy," he added.
Najib said despite the differences of opinion among various political parties and groups, Malaysia had been internationally recognised as being on the right track in its development.
He said during the recent Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders meeting in China, several leaders had credited Malaysia as an up-and-coming nation.
As such, he said Malaysians should disregard negative issues raised in the social media by the opposition.
"Barisan has become the victim of manipulation, half-truths and outright lies propagated by the opposition," he said, urging Barisan parties to close ranks and strengthen unity among members.