Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, Malaysia. My country. My home.

(Adam: Malaysia is my country. My home. I'll not let anyone F**K it up.)

In a few hours my country celebrates its 49th birthday. 49 years since we were rid of the shackles of the colonial masters. 49 years since we became a nation. 49 years of trying unsuccessfully to be ONE people.

Throughout the peninsula and over in Sabah and Sarawak millions of once-a-year patriots will be waving Jalur Gemilang’s and shouting MERDEKA!!! on cue. In stadiums, on the streets, in pubs, by the beach. Millions more will be at home in front of the TV. Contributing their few seconds of annual patriotism. Before they switch channels back to the EPL or some reality show calculated to instill such great values in our Malaysian lives as envy, greed, pipe dreams and overnight success without passion or effort. There will be much party-ing and celebrations. The reasons for celebrating? Nobody really knows except that it is August 31 and it is our Independence Day and it’s a day off work. For most Malaysians I daresay it will be just another holiday with the chance to look at some fireworks if one happens to live near enough to where they are being fired.

Tomorrow will be a different story. It will be back to the mundane routine. Of trying to earn a living while trying to avoid being run down by mad drivers, enduring badly maintained public transport, coping with rising costs with static salaries. Of wishing for better things. Of having absolutely no options. Wondering what has happened to the last 49 years of hopes and aspirations.

For some it will be a return to debates about the really IMPORTANT things in life. Luxury cars and who are entitled to buy how many at what price. How to cut down more trees and build more houses and then how to refute all allegations of wrong doing when lives are lost in landslides and collapsed homes.

For others it will be back to arguing about scenic bridges and sand deals. How many bullets national service trainees expand in the novel idea of shooting guns as part of service to the nation.

Long after the smoke from fireworks has blown over to a neighbouring country to choke their lungs for a change. And the celebratory litter has been cleared from the streets, proud Malaysian flags will be left to rot and tear in the ever-choking smog of indifference. Until next August 31.

Hopefully, there will be some Malaysians who will spend the day quietly reflecting on the times when ALL of us were just Malaysians without the distinctions of race or creed. Living, working and being ONE people in an independent nation with tremendous potential to become a happy, prosperous country of diversity.

Hopefully, there will be many Malaysians who will make a stand and not allow their homeland to deteriorate into a slum of polarised disintegration. Malaysians who will say “Enough!” to political double-speak and make personal commitments to work hard towards efforts to really achieve true nationhood. Malaysians who will stay and fight for real independence, harmony and solidarity. Malaysians who will finally understand the oft-misinterpreted slogan KERANAMU MALAYSIA. That Malaysia is NOT Pak Lah. Or Najib Razak. Or any of the circus of politicians with facial hair that jostle to get their mugs included with that slogan.

Malaysia is you and me. Our families. Our neighbours. Our communities. Malaysia is US!