GEORGE TOWN - Peace, harmony and stability that Malaysians have been enjoying should be likened to the air that we breathe, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
"When there is oxygen to breathe, we take it as a normal occurrence. But, when there's no oxygen, we find it extremely hard to breathe and adapt.
"We have taken what we have all this while for granted, and as Prime Minister, I am committed to doing what I can to preserve these three elements," he said at the national-level Christmas Open House held at the Esplanade here on Christmas Day.
Najib also said Islam and Christianity shared a common beginning, and both religions have their differences such as concept of God.
"If we choose to continue to debate on the differences, it will weaken the relationship between Islam and Christianity. Instead of going down that road, we should stress on their common values," he said.
He reiterated that he was not interested in winning a legal argument. But instead, he sought to preserve the peace and stability in the country as it was his responsibility.
Earlier, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng praised the event and said this proved the state and Federal Government had a mature and healthy relationship.
"We hope that everyone, regardless of race and religion, can cultivate a sense of collaboration and friendship as well as respect for each other," Lim said.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who was also present, said the open house concept allowed everyone to take part in the joyous celebration of Christmas, adding that unity was important to a multiracial country like Malaysia.
"I hope the state and the Federal Government as well as the local government enforcement agencies will work together to make Visit Malaysia Year 2014 a success.
"We aim to bring in 28 million tourists who are expected to spend up to RM76bil," he said in his speech.
Thousands of people crowded the Esplanade field to take part in the open house. They happily tucked into the wide array of local food while being entertained by various dance and song performances.
The open house was also attended by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.
The 2013 Christmas Open House celebration is one of the six major national-level festive open houses organised by the Tourism and Culture Ministry.