I was not there when our “Bapa Kemerdekaan”, Tunku Abdul Rahman hailed “Merdeka!!” three times at the Melaka Stadium, in 1954. (oops..1957, but really, does it make any difference how long we've attained "Independence"?) But my father was. He was there to witness this land being liberated from British Empire. We asked him one day, what it was like to be there. Glossy eyed, he answered, “there are no words to describe, how it felt like when Tunku shouted “merdeka!”. All the emotions just came rolling in all at once, and when we shouted after him the word “merdeka!” those emotions just gushed through our screams. Some of us even shed tears of joy.” For a man of few words (obviously shutting up is not hereditary) that was one of the longest sentences I’ve heard my father spoke for a long time. Well the longest was the lecture I got for not praying consistently when I was a teenager. Now THAT was equal to the accumulation of his sentences for like 2 years perhaps, but that is another story. For a moment, I could not decide whether to feel awed about what he had just said, or to be awed by the fact that he was capable of uttering more than 2 sentences at one time. Obviously it was a Kodak moment.
To the generation thereafter, we have taken our Nation’s Independence for granted, because we were not there to feel the difference between how it was to be ruled by the British, and how life was after the British left. My grandfather, who was a man of lesser words than my dad,(come to think of it, the only words I remember him ever spoken to me was ‘pergi mandi’, when he saw me still clad in my school uniform past Maghrib, running around with my siblings), was a hard laborer. He use to work in KTM and for extra money, he did odd jobs in the kampong. It was tough on him, as he had 14...yes, 14 kids to feed. ( I don't think the potentials of rubber was fully explored let alone made accessible to public during that time). Although he did not say much to us, my grandmother did the talking for him (now that lady have no problems in talking. In fact the problem lies in getting her to zzzzip it). She said that it was tough just to bow to these “orang putih” almost all the time. Although they can be nice to you, they still go around thinking they are superior and you are just one class above the animals’. Looking at some of us driving on the road today, I do tend to agree with the “orang putih” sometimes – the bit about ‘no better than the animals’.
51 years past Independence, what have we achieved? Well, for starters, we are one of the fast growing third world country. Infrastructures, although, can be better, especially most of the parts in Sabah and Sarawak, are much better, albeit, of course, there is a price to pay for this…..
Then, along came Tun Mahathir. Because he stayed longer than many would like to have him around (because they too would like to have a go at the PM post before their times on earth are up, or before some nasty political scandal unveils dooming their political career, or whichever comes first), people started to dislike him. It’s human nature, people like something new, and as time passes, they find fault with the present and crave for something new again. But whatever said and done, we have to admit, that without him, this country would not have propelled and grown so fast. Some call him “kuku besi” but, let’s face it, we Malaysians need a strong charismatic character to kick us on the butt and make us move from our comfort zone. Life was never the same after punch card was it? Now we are indebted to others who come early to punch our cards by proxy, how inconvenient!!
I pity those who came to post after Mahathir, because it is not easy to out shadow him. Even hitherto, he is still giving us what he’s got. I think that is a clear sign of being a Nationalist, don’t you think? . It’s not easy to compete with a leader who takes in as much knowledge from reading as he does the air. (it’s the nose…heh..heh…I’m just jealous because my nose is kemek you know…)
Our education system, although can do much….MUCH better, (if the government tells us otherwise, just ask them how come their kids are not in any one of the government schools?) is still made available to every single citizens. Our health system covers free treatment for all. Be a Pakistan, or Indian or Indonesian citizen, for example and you will appreciate how lucky we all are that when we are sick, we need not buy everything, from medication right up to the needles and syringes for injection or blood taking. Needless to say, there's room for improvement....way a lot of room...I salute the dedicated medical staff who despite are overworked and underpaid, continued to perform their duties to the best they can. (serving mostly ungrateful people, if I may add)
Of course one will say, why compare to the nation who are worst off than us, why not compare with, say America. Well, true, but at the same time we struggle to push for betterment, we should not discard from our minds, the word “gratitude”. The inexcusable act of mankind in the absence of intention, is perhaps to take things for granted. We are just half a decade old as a nation, that’s like a teenager in the history of the existence of a nation. It is evident by the growing pains that we are undergoing today. And like teenagers, we fight, we scream, we kick, and throw harsh words at our parents, as some parents can be a daft pair.
We scream hatred, conduct demonstrations in places sure to cause disruption in hope to catch major attention ( I mean, who’s to give a hoot if one is to demonstrate somewhere where you can hardly get phone transmission right? But we have to remember, if we demonstrate for justice, our act of erecting justice must be consistent with not causing injustice to the innocent bystanders and those who’s life depends on the daily earnings from the venue of that demonstration, . Cakap kena serupa bikin kan?), we rediscovered the power of the people as evidenced in the last GE election, all as the part and parcel of growing up as a nation. But we must remember, siblings fight because they love each other.
(More when you enter the rabbit hole)
There are many things we need to sort out as a nation. First and foremost, at the heart of all this chaos we’re going through, we have to bear in mind that, whether we like it or not, we are stuck with each other. Deal with it. There is no question of creating ONE MALAYSIA, because we have always been one,(although there are people who do many things to break this, in order to stay relevant if not dominant as a political power). It’s re-branding it. It’s to remind us during our growing pains, that despite all this fight, we are still one, just one dealing with the growing pain.
We need to understand that if we are as righteous and religious as we proclaim ourselves to be, then the first thing we need to work on is eliminating racism. Malays need to instigate this process by embedding this simple fact into our thick skulls; that we need to be fair, and we need to share. NEP at its gist is an excellent policy. We somehow lost it at the implementation level. My grandfather, as I’ve mentioned earlier was a laborer. 2 generations later, via NEP, his next generation had managed to prove that NEP had served its purpose.
Well, almost. I would like to have this successful NEP story happening to my Non Malay brothers and sisters too. How can I stand tall and proud amongst my fellow Malaysians knowing that I had it served to me on a silver platter. Someone can turn around and tell me that it’s easy for me to condemn the NEP because I’ve already tasted it’s fruits, and that I’m not grateful with what was given to me. Well, to them I say (well, the actual thing I would say to them is terribly inappropriate to broadcast..), if I were to be happy with the scholarship I got in order to educate me, and keep quiet to show that I’m grateful, then it was not scholarship that I took, but pure bribery. Bribery to keep my mouth shut from voicing out injustice. That was what the government sent me to do right, to BE educated? Well, now that I am educated what good is education to someone if he turns his head and look away when injustice is staring him straight into the eyes? Keeping silent about it would mean condoning injustice.
How can we call ourselves people who are "enlightened", angry and are ready for jihad when someone insults Allah or Islam for example, yet in turn, we insult Allah by not acknowledging His words that humans are all equal; even breed next generation of racists? Children are like sponges, they absorb just about anything taught to them. We should stop putting racial ideas into their minds. We can start by not segregating them at a young age. Vernacular schools should not exist. It’s a symbol of hypocrisy. Here we are, shouting MUHIBBAH and then we turn around and separate our kids, even before they hit puberty.
Then, we need to turn this Democratic Country, on papers, yet Kleptocratic by practice, the other way round. I would, and I'm sure like many of us Malaysians, would like to feast our eyes upon the civil servants', or the police’s badges that bears the words, "Saya Anti Rasuah", knowing that there is no silent “N” sitting at the beginning of the word “anti”…
Yes, we may have the tallest, flattest, longest building or whatever not, to show the world that we are on our way to joining the developed countries, but is there a point to chasing after materialistic endeavours, when we leave behind a legacy of a failed human nation? (as in failed humans...)
As time passes by, the enemy is no longer the "penjajah" from a land far far away. The enemy is amongst us, the people who destroy the next generation by indulging in corruption, bad politics, racial oppression, wait, that's all redundant. So what does Merdeka means to us now? If we are to allow governing powers to continue the legacy of the British in the "divide and rule" policy, then I guess, we have yet to gain our Independence.
If "Merdeka" is a synonym for freedom, then let there be freedom of the minds, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of our own ego, freedom from any form of oppression and so forth. If I were to go on, then I might as well write a book about it.
Here’s what I hope the future would be. It would be nice to wake up someday, and have all our children answer this question, “what are you”, “I am a Malaysian” or not have to refer to fellow Malaysians as Malay or Non Malay, Bumis or Non Bumis.
Someday, somehow, someway, I hope to be able to experience all that mixed emotions and tears of joy gushing out through my eyes,as I scream the word, "Merdeka!!!" in the same manner as how my father had experienced it. Until then, I guess I will just have to settle with Sudirman's video clip;
Selamat Menyambut Hari Merdeka...for now, it means extra laundry day...
(Bother not to proceed, as verbiage ends here)
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