Ed was inspired to write this piece after reading Marcus’ article. We’d love to publish more Merdeka and Malaysia Day pieces in the coming weeks — go to loyarburok.com/relationship to find out how to submit your articles to us!
When I was a child, I used to watch the Merdeka Day parades on TV with my family. Itwas an annual ritual which I looked forward to. But I haven’t done so in many years. It is partly because the parades, orchestrated by the minions at the Ministry of Information,Communications and Culture, are terribly boring. And partly because as I grew up, I stopped believing in the sugar coated propaganda spewed by the government.
Proclamations of a “Bersih, Cekap dan Amanah” nation, of a “1Malaysia” ring hollow, when “corrupt”, “self interested”, “inequitable”, and “plain stupid” are in my humble opinion, words better to describe the government of the day. The recent “Janji Ditepati” controversy is an example of how the government of the day has confused their responsibility to govern the nation in the best interest of every Malaysian, with their allegiance to a certain political party.
It is not surprising that many Malaysians I know prefer to spend their Merdeka Day overseas on holiday, or at one of the many shopping centres in town.
I admire the way the Americans celebrate their Independence Day, 4th July — with small localized picnics, gatherings and parades to celebrate the “land of the free, and the homeof the brave”. Several years back, I decided that it was time for us ordinary Malaysiansto “reclaim” Merdeka Day. It should be an occasion to remind ourselves of what makes this a wonderful country, to connect with our fellow Malaysians, to forge a common destiny.
I am an optimist, and I believe each of us has a part to play in nation building. Yes, this is far from a perfect country (which country is?), but we must make the most of oursituation. We have to start seeing the cup as being half full rather than being half empty.
Let us be thankful for the diversity of our culture, race, religion – which gives us this delicious rojak of different foods, arts, architecture, clothing, etc. Let us be thankful that we live in a fortunate country – unscarred by war, and unburdened by natural disasters.
Let us celebrate all that is good about this country. Let us work together to make this country better and fairer for all.
Let us treat each other with greater respect, sincerity, and compassion.
It is said that: “Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.” Let us love our country.
It is with these thoughts in mind that I initiated the Negaraku cards project with FiveArts Centre and TEC Asia to celebrate 50 years of Merdeka in 2007.
I also held Merdeka Day parties at my condominium for a few years.
Then in 2010 and 2011, together with some NGOs, we organized Malaysia Day street celebrations, themed “Malaysiaku” at Bangkung Row (as celebrating Malaysia Day instead of Merdeka Day would be more inclusive for our brothers and sisters across the South China Sea).
This year, we will be holding a Malaysia Day fund raiser for BERSIH at Leonardo’s.
It is my fervent hope that all Malaysians will start their own Malaysia Day celebrations — whether it is a street party in your neighbourhood or a pot luck dinner at home with family and fellow Malaysians, or lighting a candle and saying a prayer for peace and prosperity in our country.
Malaysia Day is OUR day – don’t let the government or anyone else persuade you otherwise.
Selamat Hari Merdeka dan Hari Malaysia.