KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said festive celebrations and other gatherings were made possible now due to the success of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) and the close cooperation of all quarters.

The prime minister said PICK’s success has enabled Malaysians to enjoy relaxation of restrictions in social and economic sectors in stages, as the vaccination rate for the country’s adult population has reached 95.1 per cent yesterday.

He also congratulated and thanked all Malaysians for placing their full support, trust and confidence in the government’s efforts to ensure the country’s recovery.

“Compared to last year, Deepavali this year is celebrated on a much grander scale in new norms. Many have taken the opportunity to return home to meet up with their relatives after the government lifted the interstate travel ban on Oct 11,” he said in his speech at the 2021 Deepavali Malaysia Open House at the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTIC) here tonight.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and MIC president Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran were also present at the event.

Ismail Sabri, however, reminded Malaysians to continue to comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) and not to be complacent or take the Covid-19 threat lightly as the pandemic would continue to disrupt and restrict personal freedoms due to carelessness.

He also urged Malaysians to embrace the spirit of Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family) so that unity among the multi-racial society in the country can be further strengthened in conjunction with the Deepavali celebration.

He said the Malaysian Family concept also focused on togetherness, inclusiveness and gratitude, which would unite Malaysians.

These values were emphasised in all religions, and it is our shared responsibility to defend them for the sake of the country’s progress, prosperity and harmony, he said.

On implementing the country’s development agenda, he said the government is always committed to ensuring the welfare of all races in the country so that no one is neglected.

“In Budget 2022, the government has allocated RM145 million to empower the Indian community’s socio-economy under the Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA) and the Indian Community Entrepreneur Development scheme by Tekun Nasional.

“In addition, the government has allocated RM50 million for the maintenance and development of houses of worship in local municipalities as well as implementation of community activities with the assistance of locals and religious leaders,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said the spirit of unity and cooperation has allowed Malaysians to live in peace and harmony although they comprised of many races with different religions, languages and cultures.

He said these differences made Malaysians a society that is rich in terms of culture, and was a unifying factor held in high esteem by the international community.

“What’s special about us in Malaysia is that Deepavali is celebrated in such a festive manner in the spirit of Keluarga Malaysia, with its inclusive values that transcend the boundaries of religion, culture and race.

“I hope this celebration will strengthen our unity as we reaffirm the ties that bind us together as Keluarga Malaysia and enjoy the harmony that has been blessed upon our beloved Malaysia,” he said. — Bernama