PETALING JAYA: A new award to honour those who worked hard to promote national integration has been launched by the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong).
Called the Usman Awang National Integration Award, it was created to recognise individuals or societies that strove to strengthen multi-racial ties and promote national harmony, said Huazong president Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah.
The award is named after National Laureate Datuk Usman Awang, who died on Nov 29, 2001.
"In his works and poems, Datuk Usman's spirit and positive views about integration are clearly seen," Pheng told reporters at the launch of the award's nominations yesterday.
"Although he has passed away, his works still encourage harmony and unity without counting skin colour, race or religion."
According to Pheng, racial issues had been played up after the 13th general election, with some parties spreading statements that were unhealthy for national integration.
He added that there were "certain extremist elements" present today who purposely tried to destroy the country's harmony and deviated from the 1Malaysia spirit.
Huazong national unity committee chairman Tan Sri Ng Teck Fong stressed that unity and national integration should be based on the spirit of democracy, equality and fairness.
"All Malaysians have the same rights, and it is in this spirit that we can realise true integration," he said, urging leaders, civil servants and the media to distance themselves from racist attitudes and statements.
The award is open to all individuals and societies (except political parties) whose activities or efforts involve two or more races and have made an impact on society.
There are two categories to this award. The recipient for the Anugerah Perpaduan Cemerlang will win RM100,000 and a certificate.
Five others will stand to win RM10,000 (S$3,972.80) and a certificate each for the Anugerah Perpaduan Gemilang.
The nomination form can be obtained from www.huazong.my or its secretariat and the closing date is Sept 27.