We are happy that the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia receives the 1967 Magsaysay Award today when festivities are taking place all over my country marking 10 years of our freedom.
My brother could not come in person to receive the Award because today's presentation coincides with the Independence Anniversary of Malaysia. He has, therefore, asked me to come to Manila to receive the Award on his behalf.
The Deputy Prime Minister has asked me to deliver this message to you all. I quote:
"I would like to apologize for not being able to receive the Award personally. However, I feel greatly honored to be chosen the winner of the 1967 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. I am indeed grateful to the members of the Magsaysay Foundation Board of Trustees for their recognition of whatever little I have done, am doing and will continue to do for the development of Malaysia and the progress of the Malaysian masses. Your recognition will, I have no doubt, spur Malaysians to further and greater progress and achievements.
"It has not been an easy job for my colleagues in the government and for me personally to do whatever we have done for our country. We have achieved progress and political stability as a result of a partnership of efforts. The Malaysian people have responded and our government officers have served well. The politicians have conducted the affairs of the state with great credit to themselves.
"It is difficult anywhere to move people—traditional people as Malaysians are—from feudalism to modernity and to mold a diverse people into a nation; but thanks to the Almighty, through partnership of efforts, cooperation and understanding of all the races, we have managed it in Malaysia. This was because we rely on the good sense, the practicability of our ra-ayat (people) and harness their aspirations for stability, affluence and a desire for a respected place in the international community. We put our trust in universal education, and a major part of our national and rural development plan is adult education and community development. We also concentrate on giving the people projects that will afford them lasting economic betterment and create employment opportunities for our youth.
"The late President Magsaysay was regarded by Malaysians as easily the most popular Filipino leader of unchallenged honesty and integrity. He brought order and peace to your country, which was then threatened by communists, and restored the confidence of the people in the government and, with their support, wiped out the Hukbalahap terrorists. He knew this is the only way to fight and best communists.
"During the same period he was reforming the Philippines and fighting terrorists, we were ourselves fighting communism, which was later also beaten by the same methods that the late President Magsaysay had used in his fight against the Filipino communists.
"After the war against the terrorists was won in 1960, we found the people weary and longing for progress of which the Emergency had deprived them. So, in 1961, I started the present National and Rural Development Program which has given Malaysia progress, prosperity and political stability. Through the National and Rural Development effort, we have provided for the country a strong framework with many development projects. As a result, Malaysia has a firm base of economic and political stability and a flourishing democracy. Our main job now is to continue our work of nation-building and ensure that all our people will live in peace and harmony and the parliamentary system of government thrives and is strengthened.
"We in Malaysia regarded the late President Magsaysay as one of communism's most ardent and effective foes and a staunch believer in international cooperation. But he did not live long enough to see the growing friendship and cooperation between our two countries and the regional cooperation that is about to take place, or is already taking place though in a very limited way, among the sovereign nations of Southeast Asia through various international agencies. We have just formed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which I sincerely hope will grow into a meaningful association serving Southeast Asia.
"I am very glad to see that the Philippines and Malaysia are on the friendliest of terms. I hope the Philippines, Malaysia and other countries in the region will always get together to resolve common problems and to plan and meet common aspirations and ideals. It is in this direction that my country's foreign policy and objectives are at the moment giving high priority.
The late President Magsaysay served his country well, and I am very glad to be associated with the name and memory of this great man whose life was spent serving his people. Inspired by his example, my only desire in life is to serve the people and my country and, if I can do the little that I know I am capable of in the best traditions of the late President Magsaysay, I would indeed be a happier man."