KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysians are able to celebrate religious festivals in harmony because they possess true strength by accepting each other's differences.
In his Christmas message yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the country was the strongest and at its most majestic when people were united.
"When we look around, we discover that we are fortunate. There are places in the world that are being afflicted by disharmony and discord. This is because people of different faiths and beliefs stubbornly refuse to accept their differences," he said in a posting on his 1Malaysia blog.
Najib said Malaysians had been tested by attempts to tear the country apart, but had emerged victorious by virtue of their patience, acceptance and understanding.
He urged everyone to come together to ensure their homeland remained harmonious and filled with opportunities.
"Let us count our blessings and strive to be a blessing to those around us. Keep alive the Malaysian spirit of visiting one another and bear in mind the teachings to respect one another.
"Let us look forward with hope and confidence, and be assured that all have a rightful place in the future of this beautiful nation of ours. I wish all of you a merry and meaningful Christmas."
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Christmas celebrations embodied the spirit of tolerance practised by Malaysians to ensure unity and harmony.
"Although Christians make up fewer than 10 per cent of the population, the uniqueness of Christmas can be seen everywhere.
"The recent flood disaster in several states has not deterred their spirit to celebrate and continue the tradition of visiting one another, regardless of race and religion."
He said freedom of religion in the country was a result of tolerance and respect practised by all levels of society, without which the harmonious relationship between religions would not be possible.
"I would like to wish all Malaysians a very merry Christmas and let us contribute to the wellbeing of this beloved nation."