Kuala Lumpur: Najib Razak become first Prime Minister in 30 years to visit the Hindu shrine of Batu Caves here since country's third PM, late Hussein Onn who came to the place way back in 1979.
During his visit to the shrine yesterday Najib said that he wanted to restart the long-suspended tradition by coming to the 1Malaysia carnival in Batu Caves and also attend the Thaipusam celebrations next year.
The Malayan PM has repeatedly exhorted the idea of a united Malaysia or 1Malaysia with all its three main races - majority Muslim Malaysa, ethnic Chinese- mostly Christians and Buddhists - and ethnic Indian playing an important role in building the country.
In his speech, Najib said 1Malaysia concept was meant to remove the mentality of "zero-sum game" where someone must lose so that another can win.
"If we help the Indians, it does not mean that we are depriving the Malays of their rights or leaving the Chinese to fend for themselves," he said.
He noted that government wanted to make 1Malaysia concept a part of the nation's psyche to "change the mindset from mere tolerance to total acceptance of our plural society as a political reality".
The entrance and courtyard of Batu Caves, which houses the Murugan temple, was packed with thousands of devotees and tourists to welcome the Prime Minister to the opening of the carnival organised by Sri Mahamariamman Temple Dhevasthanam and the Malaysian Hindu Council.
After a colourful choir and arts performance by Temple of Fine Arts, a local singer pleased the crowd by performing several songs infused with jokes that displayed the 1Malaysia concept.
"It is our strength, not our weakness. Our asset, not a liability," said Najib, who gave a 500,000 ringgit allocation to the Divine Life Society to build an orphanage.
He also said that government would pump more funds to improve Batu Caves as a major tourist attraction.
First Published: Monday, August 10, 2009, 16:15