From the Selangor Times Issue 39, 26-28 August 2011. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered!
His Supreme Eminenceness’ email and Twitter minions reported an avalanche of questions about Merdeka Day, Malaysia Day, and all manner of things related to being Malaysian and displaying patriotism. They were all so similar that selecting which questions get chosen for publication [an honour recognised even in the darkest regions of TrES-2b (look it up)] was tough. Tough, but nothing that a complex sequence of Russian roulette, darts, and lat-ta-li-lat couldn’t solve.
As Merdeka & Malaysia Day approaches, I want to do something to show my patriotism. Any suggestions? (Harimau, via email)
Lord Bobo, my colleagues say I’m not proud of the country because I don’t want to stick a flag on my car. Am I really? (Flagellate, via email)
I’ve been labeled “unpatriotic” because I sometimes (okay, always) criticise the government. Is there any truth in that? (Care Bear, via email)
We will answer your questions collectively, in the spirit of unity that has always been – and hopefully will always be – the hallmark of Malaysian society.
Let it first be known that Lord Bobo does not celebrate birthdays. When you’re as ancient as His Supreme Eminenceness, the complexities involved in calculating the right number and configuration of big and small candles are enough to slam the figurative door on any fancy do. Plus, it requires special clearance from the fire department and having firemen on standby; too much of a hassle – unless you’re organising that kind of a party (which Lord Bobo would not). This does not mean, however, that we are insensitive to the excitement Malaysians feel as their country gears up for her twin celebrations. Their enthusiastic patriotism is worthy of praise although His Foresightedness has often wondered about the co-relation between flag-wrapped cars and road-accident mortalities.
Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day has regrettably turned into merely one of those superficial, materialistic, consumerist occasions to spend a lot of money on tacky purportedly patriotic trinkets little different from one of the many MegaSales in Malaysia. It has become the day where scoundrels of every social strata seek to demonstrate their patriotism and love by adorning themselves or ornamenting themselves with the Jalur Gemilang like some cheap perfume bought by the gallon. A day meant to celebrate our patriotic spirit and commemorate the founding of our nation has regressed into a yearly occasion to insincere and cheap declarations of love for the country. Flags are hoisted, special television programs aired, insincere speeches given by the government, and these are all forgotten the day after as if it was some reckless drunken indulgence you cannot wait to forget.
Yet patriotism is a lot more than flying flags on sky-high spoilers, draping them over balconies, sticking them on cheap plastic flagpoles on your car, and wearing them like a sarong till it stinks. Patriotism is a relationship that goes deep. So deep that if you held it under a microscope, you’d also see your jealous girlfriend chucking a ninja dagger in your direction. Like any relationship, it’s what you’d do for a country that protects your freedoms, offers you employment opportunities and tries, through its policies, to provide you with the quality of life you seek.
Patriotism isn’t necessarily framed in the positive either, e.g praising the government for every single thing – even bad decisions. After all, His Prodigiousness is certain you won’t tell your girlfriend she’s January Jones if she’s really Marge Simpson (unless she’s really rich, maybe). No, you’re just as patriotic if you, say, speak up against corruption within the ranks. The problem with many Malaysians that they think the country equals the government, and vice versa. That is wrong. We can’t really blame them though, as the Malaysian education system ingrains it into the minds of all who pass through it that the country equals the government equals Barisan Nasional. That is a false and completely dishonest representation of the democratic principles upon which Malaysia is built.
Lord Bobo believes that patriotism is not simply an act to be displayed on Merdeka or Malaysia Day. Patriotism is an act of honouring your country, its citizens and what it stands for everyday that you live, work and love in this country. Patriotism is the act of caring and loving your country by doing good for it in the larger sense, and to its citizens on a more personal level. When you help a fellow countryman, whatever their race or religion, you are being patriotic. When you pick up a piece of rubbish off the road, that is patriotism. It is not patriotism to stick a cheap plastic flag on your car and litter the country when it falls off. So the demonstration of patriotism shouldn’t be confined to Merdeka or Malaysia Day. It should occur everyday.
So what should you do on Merdeka and Malaysia Day instead of those callous and shallow displays of patriotism? Lord Bobo has two excellent suggestions: Firstly, ask yourself – what has your country done for you (your country, not the bloody government), and what you can do for your country. Secondly, after you have answered that question, go out and do what you think best to honour this great and beautiful country.
Have a question for Lord Bobo? Call on His Supreme Eminenceness by emailing [email protected], stating your full name, and a pseudonym (if you want), or tweeting your questions by mentioning @LoyarBurok and using the hashtag #asklordbobo. The first 100 questions published will receive monkey-riffic LoyarBurok merchandise courtesy of Selangor Times. What the hell are you waiting for? Hear This, and Tremblingly Obey (although trembling is optional if you are somewhere very warm)! Liberavi Animam Meam! I Have Freed My Spirit!