Oh well, you get my drift. Selamat Merdeka.
What makes us Malaysian? This question has been playing in mind the writer mind for quite some time leading up to the Merdeka celebrations. What are the criteria for a person to be Malaysian? Now, I am not talking what legally makes a person Malaysian citizen. Yes, your blue IC makes you a Malaysian in legal terms but what gives us our Malaysian identity? How does someone from the outside look at us and know that we are Malaysian?
Growing up the writer occasionally had an identity crisis of sorts when it came to nationality. So many different races, so many different cultures, how does one properly identify oneself as Malaysian? The fact that many Malaysians still identify themselves more strongly with their race as compared to their nationality has not helped the problem. Race-based policies have merely compounded the problems. The race issue has certainly taken a huge toll on national unity in many ways. Halfway through pondering this somewhat philosophical question, this writer then got too preoccupied with midterms, assignments and preparing to walk around KL wearing yellow like it was his bapak punya jalan. So like the lazy pig he is, he decided that the best and easiest way to determine what made a Malaysian was to go with the stereotypes. Stereotypes are not completely accurate, but most should identify with them, so le writer decided to make a list of stereotypes.
So here is an incomplete and not necessarily factually accurate list of Stereotypes about Malaysians.
1 A Malaysian says, “lah”. Forget about the fact that Singaporeans also use this not-really-a-word-but-still-part-of-our-vocab-kinda-thingamajiggy. Our little kiasu neighbours were once a part of us so they don’t count lah.
2 A Malaysian loves food. This is a fact. Really, go look up official statistics about the number of Malaysians affected by diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and the likes of them. The number of obese Malaysians are on the rise to apparently. OK, maybe not the best way to illustrate this point but hey, there's no denying how good our food is right?
3 Malaysians drive Proton and Perodua. Nowhere else in the world can you find people buying, let alone driving a Proton. In the rare case, someone does actually buy one, it's most likely an overly patriotic Malaysian.
4 Malaysians speak lots of languages. Unlike most countries, Malaysia has 2 compulsory languages within its national syllabus. For those who come from non-Malay families, they have the added advantage of fluency in their mother-tongue too.Unless they are bananas or coconuts.
5 Malaysians love a certain ruling party since independence, nuff said right?
6 Malaysians love to stereotype. Forever using inaccurate facts to label people of a certain race, gender or background.
7 Malaysians are hypocritical. They will accuse others of certain stuff like being stereotypical and still do it themselves.
8 Malaysians love their durian. I mean, who does not love the durian? After all, it has this pungent smell that makes tourist puke, its mushy texture like mud, the taste of natural custard and spiky outer shell that could probably kill you if you slept under its tree during the durian season.
Ok ok so this is a crappy list of stereotypes and no this writer does not at the moment have the brain power to properly sit down and come up with a legit answer to this question. What this weirdo writing this piece really feels is that being Malaysian does not have to be something complicated. Stay here, love the place, love the people, contribute and do your thing. All should be well. Unless lu bangla/Filipino/Indon/ Nepali/Rohingya then different story lah.
Oh well, you get my drift. Selamat Merdeka.
By Banana Masoob
You arose from blissful slumber, knowing full well that 58 years ago from today, Malaysia gained something priceless. Through turmoil and hardship, the once British conquered land, got its first taste of freedom, liberty and self-governance. You’ve been waiting for this day, the day that you can truly express your gratitude towards what the nation has achieved.
You shower to the tune of the town of the national anthem singing along whilst rhythmically chanting the words. A cup of joe accompanied by the Monday paper headlined” Merdeka” came right after. You stare at the parchment, with a twinge of pride and can’t help but smile to yourself, thinking “what a blessed day”. You move to the couch, the smell of old oak always helped you remember what it was like growing up in your parent’s home. It was a small house but vibrant with nostalgic colour.
You own a fairly big flat screen, and the minute the noise of static ended, as you switched it on, the booming of thousands of voices filled the room. Yes, it was the Merdeka Parade. As a child, you didn’t like going to the parade. It was always something, there were too many people, it was too loud, but at the bedrock of it all was pure ignorance. You hadn’t the slightest notion as to what all the commotion was about. Looking back now you start to reminisce all the times you decide to stay home instead of attending this celebration of independence.
But you're older now, you should go to the parade, be part of the workforce that drives this nation’s pride. It didn’t matter what the reason was, you’re going to that parade. The Hari Merdeka Parade (Independence Day Parade) is an annual parade held every 31 August in commemoration of Malaysia's independence. Since independence, the event has been usually held at Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur in commemoration of it being the original site of the first independence parade, which was held on 1 September 1957.
The Casio clock you’ve owned since the 2000’s read 7.30, at 8:00 in the morning, HM the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and HM the Raja Permaisuri Agong arrive at the venue, accompanied by a Royal Procession by members of the Royal Malaysian Police and the Mounted Ceremonial Squadron, RAC. The Guard of Honor Company, now at attention, renders a Royal Salute to the Sovereigns (in light of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's responsibilities as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces), the unit Colors of the GOH battalion (Sovereign's and Regimental) are dipped and the National Anthem, Negaraku, is played by the military band. You were going to that parade, short notice or not. After this, the GOH does shoulder and then order arms. The GOH commander then salutes his sword and then reports to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that the GOH is ready for inspection.
You made it just in time for the Royal Inspection, by the time the inspection starts the slow Menungjung Duli March is played. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong inspects the GOH Company and salutes its Sovereign's and Regimental Colours. When it ends, the GOH commander then reports the end of the inspection and asks for the GOH to march-past, and later orders the company for the Royal Salute. The National Anthem is then played again and the Colours are again dipped in the presence of the Sovereigns. The human graphic display by then shows "Daulat Tuanku" (Long Live the King) written on it. After this, the GOH Company executes shoulder arms and turn right and then perform a march past.
After which you stayed for the fly –past, planes of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the Malaysian Army Air Force and the Royal Malaysian Navy. There were helicopters too. After the flypast, the much-awaited civil/military march starts with the march past of the Malaysian national and state flags. You’ve always wanted to join up and go into service but never did. It ended as soon as the last float went by. You never really stuck around for the leftovers anyway.
You breathed a sigh of relieving upon returning home. You freshened up and took the load off on the couch, thinking to yourself, “what a day”.
Merdeka simply means freedom. Obviously it implies that Malaya (then) was finally independent of the British after a long colonization. Yes! Our founding fathers were indeed proud of the independence we have achieved together as a nation regardless of race and beliefs.
Now, it has been 58 years since the Union Jack was brought down. Let’s ask ourselves are we truly free? I’m not referring to being free from foreign powers as freedom has a massive scope. Are Malaysians free in our thinking? Are we free from racial abuse? Are we free from racial polarization? Are we free from being mere sheep or pawns of our political leaders? Are we free to be ourselves and not conform to society?
The truth is, most of us are not. We are not free from our comfort zone, especially when it comes to mixing with other races. We are not free to be Malaysian instead we are just mere prisoners trapped behind the walls of our race. We cannot deny that not all Malaysians are like this but to our dismay, most of us are. Look around you, who are your friends, the ones you mix with most of the time, are they all Chinese, Malays or Indians? When was the last time you spoke to a person of another race except for work or academic matters? When was the last time you yum cha with a group of friends from different races or even nationalities? No doubt, we are proud to be Malaysian due to our rich culture and diversities in the country but come on, we are not in a tourism advertisement on TV3 that loves to paint a false and misleading picture of how we are.
Is it right to conform something that is unjust for the sake of not being criticized? Is it right to conform to mix only among your race just because others may say you have forgotten your roots? Did you notice that this is rampant around campus? We may attend Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) for primary education, later proceed to MRSM, or in another situation, attending SJK (C) for primary school and later private Chinese High School like Foon Yew High School for secondary education. Despite on where we were before, if we can’t realize the importance of mixing with our brothers and sisters from other race then, can’t we see it when we are in varsity? Since the readers are mostly MMU Students, our campus has a rich integration of races and nationalities but again we have a racial polarization in our CLC lecture halls, PS food courts or even our LPs. Ask ourselves, when can we break free from this unhealthy norm? Can we be free from this disgusted and sick thinking or mindset?
Yes, some may say, blame the government. Blame this political party for making racist policies and statements, blame that political party for poisoning people of a certain race. This brings me back to the point that we are mere sheep controlled by wolves. Why not we think critically and address what is the root of the issue, the answer is ourselves. Start being Malaysian, embrace Merdeka and free ourselves for the betterment of the nation.
By George S Patton
31st August 2015 heralds the 58th year of Malaysian independence from the British rulers. Ostensibly, it appears that our country has made a significant material progress over these years. The citizens of Malaysia now have access to a wide variety of needs and wants such as food, medical services and technology as well. We are enjoying plentiful facilities in terms of public services, education options and lifestyle goods.
At this very same time, Malaysians are probably facing multitude of problems. We are currently living in a highly unstable position, where internal and external enemies can rip apart the fabric of a citizen’s very existence without a moment’s notice. Let’s forget about all other conspiracies and we shall talk about the rise of the alarming crime rate in Malaysia. Looking on the “Malaysia 2015 Crime and Safety Report” dated 3rd April 2015 by The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), it was published that the crime rates in Malaysia are high.
“All crime is a kind of disease and should be treated as such”, this was quoted by Mahatma Gandhi. Along with it, he once stated that a country is not completely independent till the day a man dressed fully of gold jewels can walk on a street without any fear. This may be impossible for any country to achieve because crime is everywhere, but only the rate varies among nations.
It is not deniable that happiness of an average Malaysians' life has scantily improved from the pre-independence era to the post-independence era. Yes, we may no longer live under the ruling, oppression and autocracy of another greater foreign power, yet life still carries many insecurities. Our problems have not vanished, they have simply transformed.
Not to blame the wrongdoers, a number of the criminals at this point of the recession are fairly educated. Some of them on their court trial even claimed that the crime was committed to “feed” them as a consequence of being unemployed as well as the pressure from family to earn some money. In this sense, who is to be blamed? The criminals themselves, the state of Malaysian economy or the employers who hire foreign workers just to reduce the costs.
The numbers of snatch thefts are not only on the rise, but it is worrisome that the victims are sometimes physically confronted by the robbers. In this sense, female victims are mostly targeted and attacked because they have the tendency of carrying a handbag with everything in it but not a small self-defense weapon like pepper spray. Well now, do women have complete independence when it comes to their safety in this nation?
Moving on to the more crucial part of total independence, a common Malaysian citizen, male or female, seem to always have a constant fear of being a crime victim. Walking alone at night is not safe; withdrawing cash from ATMs in public is not safe; leaving your home unoccupied for a few days (balik kampung) is not safe; and the scariest part is leaving our children at a park without an adult guarding is not safe either.
A true independence of a nation is achieved when a citizen is fearlessly independent in every sense of his living. So now, let us as the true Malaysians work towards a crime-free nation.
The true independence era is yet to begin.
SELAMAT HARI MERDEKA TO ALL FELLOW MALAYSIANS.
Having lived overseas for a number of years I was never really exposed to the spirit of the celebration. For you see, I was never here at all. Whenever mum tells me about the celebration and how things were when she was growing up in Malaysia, I always envied how the people of many cultures were able to set aside their differences and come together to celebrate the nation’s independence. Her stories about Malaysia and its culture always intrigued me.
The passion for me to visit Malaysia was instilled at a young age. Then when I was old enough to travel we used to come down every time I was on summer break. This was when I truly experienced the Malaysian hospitality. It’s truly remarkable how the culture and races blend in this country.
People are polite, helpful and ever welcoming even when one visits their house unannounced. I remember our neighbour Miss Adilah always cooking delicious Malaysian cuisine and sending it over, as well as inviting us for the occasional lunch or dinner every now and then.
Years passed before my next visit here and this time it was for a long haul. I returned to Malaysia to further my tertiary education. This was when I truly appreciated the country. I never thought I would be saying this out loud, aside from all the political turmoil that we hear this is the best place to be, period. I mean where else can you find a place where one can find food at every street corner at any given time of the day?
This country has thought me the meaning of Unity and respect and love. It was here I met people who have changed my dark perception of things. It was here I found the love that I was seeking my entire life. This is where I found more family than I would ever need.
This to me is the true spirit of Merdeka.
Sharing without prejudice. Let’s all set aside our differences and unite for Malaysia’s 58th Independence. For it is worth fighting for something you love.
SELAMAT HARI MERDEKA MALAYSIA
By Prasad Kannan
What is Merdeka like to me? What about being Malaysian is to me? How do I feel about being a Malaysian?
I think it all comes down to how we were all brought up that leads us to be Malaysian. Who were our neighbours when we were kids? Who were our classmates in Sekolah Rendah? Who we usually spend time with main kejar-kejar or masak- masak until it’s time for solat maghrib? Slowly these young kids will grow up taller, still untainted.
Then come along high school where we would find our sense of belonging and individuality. Some leave home for SBP (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh or boarding school) and some attend the school nearby. Just a bunch of teens full of angst listening to Hujan, Bunkface, Sum 41 and Green Day while rocking that razor sharp hair cut that used to be a trend back then. Well, either that or really just the good old classic Asian kids’ stereotype that participates all club events and yet score A’s on their exams. Yet there’s no shame there, instead it is something to look up to.
High school is the place where we truly know our racial differences. But it is not going to stand in our way, no. We could still have a school band with a Chinese drummer, an Indian guitarist, a Malay singer and still be able to sing “Situasi” in perfect harmony. Communication problem? It’s okay, Bahase Rojak pun acceptable. These days it doesn’t come off as a surprise that even the non-Malays could speak Bahasa Melayu fluently and the Malays could speak English fluently. It doesn’t even come off as a surprise if they all could speak Tamil and Mandarin. I salute you guys, cheers!
“Weyh, belanje. Aku belanje ko esok eh.”
And there’s always one or two makcik selling insanely delicious junk food outside the school compound. No matter primary or secondary school, there’s always someone selling. Well, I wouldn’t say delicious per se but hey, junk food always tastes good after those long, long hours of classes, there’s no denying it. If you’re broke, you could always pull off the “Weyh, belanje. Aku belanje ko esok eh.” That is if I’m lucky, but sometimes all of us are just left with nothing but few cents (tamak beli nasi lemak time rehat punye pasal lah).
This may sound very ignorant and ungrateful of me, but Merdeka to me is nothing but a fleeting memory of the past. I will not pretend to understand what our forefathers have been through. I will not pretend to feel what our soldiers went through. To be honest, I really don’t know what they have felt nor done other than what we had learnt through history. Those are just words of the present describing the past.
To most kids of the newer generation, they ought to mean nothing. Those words on papers, in textbooks, have been highlighted and underlined countless of times just for the purpose of getting an A for Sejarah. They have not gone through those dark moments of Malaya, how could they possibly understand in any way at all?
To put it in a different perspective, the freedom to interact and play with other races, to speak their languages and to create another language in total (Bahasa Rojak is one trend but do you still remember Bahasa F?), to enjoy food of different culture can be the true form of Merdeka because only in Malaysia is where we can have those privileges. It is safe to say that it is not about being free from the clutches of colonies any more, but it is about being free amongst ourselves, the rakyat of Malaysia.
Despite all of that, what we can do now is to appreciate the efforts of those who have risen and fallen for our country. Appreciate their legacy and what they have left behind. Our country may be spiralling downwards this time around, but we must not forget that at the very least, Malaysia still belong to Malaysians.
May the spirit of Merdeka bring us closer each year? Confidently, yes because kite kan orang Malaysia.
And that is how I feel being one of many who is lucky to be known as Malaysian.
Selamat Hari Merdeka, my friends!
It’s going to be 58 years since Malaysia obtained independence from colonists. It was a moment of pride for all Malaysian. But the question that wanders my mind is that do we still have it now? Does anyone know the true meaning of Independence? Or are we the one browsing through the calendar each year just to see whether a public holiday falls on a weekday just so we could get an extra day off?
Being raised in the city, I’m fortunate to get to experience the National Day Parade annually. My dad takes the effort getting us to Dataran Merdeka to join the countdown. I may not have understood then at a young age on what was going on, but looking at the large crowd gathering and cheering one common word “Merdeka” and waving the ‘Jalur Gemilang’ could give one goosebumps.
As for me, I respect the flag as it represents us Malaysians. ‘Jalur Gemilang’ signifies unity. I remember the time when I used to purchase that RM1.00 candy stick just for the flag. Decorating our small classroom with items representing Malaysia. At that moment, I used to think that it was all about winning a trophy for the best-decorated class, but thinking about it now, I realize was never about the presents. That unity you had with your fellow classmates, it’s beyond race and skin. “Merdeka” was all about the togetherness we cherish.
But how do I see “Merdeka”? “Merdeka” is not only about that one day in the month of August 1957 when we obtained Independence. I see “Merdeka” every single day I mingle with people. I receive “Merdeka” when joining festivities in our multicultural society. I know “Merdeka” by attending a friend’s wedding from a different culture. I smell “Merdeka” walking by the food stalls selling our special Malaysian food. Above all, I sense “Merdeka” when we all gather together as one. And for me that is what Independence Day is all about.
By Vich Lin
I was born in the year 1991. I lived through the eras of democracy paving its way through a young nation. I was brought up in a household where politics was the talk for the day. From Malaysia’s success in becoming a developing nation to Asia’s economic regression that deeply impacted our beloved nation.
I am a patriot. I am not ashamed to admit that. Give me any topic with regards to the current national issues and I will have something to add on to a politician’s rant. Does that make me a politician? No, I’d rather live a happier life knowing and understanding our national issues without being forced to choose a faction to side.
I studied in a boarding school dominated by Malays. That did not make me to shy away from or mixing with the other races. I believed in the concept that for as long as you’re born in this land of opportunities and mercy, you are a Malaysian. While your background stories may tickle my thoughts, or the way you speak may compel me to correct your dialect, I don’t judge you for any of that. I love your uniqueness.
Uniqueness is what makes our nation Malaysia. I tend to explore and embrace differences as a societal norm than trying to remain close to my roots. I am also not afraid to say that being an Indian, I have more friends from other races than my own. My best friend is a Malay. He was shocked listening to my good grasp conversing in Bahasa Melayu. When we got a lot closer, he gathered the courage to ask this Indian boy, “Weh kau macam mana boleh cakap Bahasa Melayu macam orang Melayu ni?” I smiled and responded back in a very fake cool manner, “Biasa je Naim.” We then became roommates for the rest of our course duration.
"Kita kan orang malaysia"
I have a limited number of Indian friends. You can’t call me a racist, though. I love my culture. I am my culture. But why limit yourself to something that you are already very familiar with. Kita kan orang Malaysia. There may be an infinite number of people from an ever-growing culture bank around us waiting to know more about each other. Think of it this way. When you wake up in the morning, and your gut gives you the siren bargaining for some food while you laze your way around to the bathroom, a hot plate of nasi lemak with crispy ikan bilis comes to mind. But if you’re living nearby the campus, you’d go to Sangeetha’s. That’s an authentic Indian restaurant. You can still order a plate of nasi lemak while sipping on that teh tarik talking to your friends (if you have any) and not be told that “Sorry adik, ini kedai makanan India.”
That is the beauty of Malaysia. The land of uniqueness. That is the Malaysia that I know, and that is the Malaysia that I will protect from the bigots on their golden chairs serving their demeaning propagandas.