I have been listening to the song by A R Rahman titled “Unnai Desathin” (loosely translated as “Your Country”) from the Tamil movie “Desam” (dubbed from the Hindi movie “Swades”) for the past 2 weeks. It’s a superb song sung by A R Rahman himself and the gist of the lyrics is about the fact that there is no place like home.
Running through the net, the part of the lyrics “crudely” translated to English goes something like this:-
This country of yours is your motherland
And is calling out to you
This is a bond which can never break
How can you forget the scent of your earth?
You can go anywhere but you’ll always come back
In new paths, in every sight to your lost heart
Someone will say this land of yours is your motherland
As a true-blood Malaysian, I have been (and still am) proud to carry the name of my country whenever I am posted overseas. One has to admit that there is no place like home – great country, great food and great friends of various races & religions.
There was one time when I was returning home after a couple of months of deployment in Ghana, I heard someone speaking Bahasa Malaysia. It almost brought tears to my eyes. I was feeling very proud of my country in a faraway land.
We will be celebrating our Merdeka in a couple of days, by the way.
Merdeka which is celebrated every year on 31st August has always been a historical event and we all know the reasons for the celebration. We have heard the same old Merdeka stories year in and year out – ranging from liberation from British rule, the hardship under the Japanese during World War 2 and the fight against the Communists.
The word “Merdeka” has been defined in more than one form and was even mentioned against the perils of globalization by our ex-PM. We see the politicians grabbing hands and saying that we are all united as one country. It will work for a while but not forever.
Just ask yourself whether we have achieved something better under our own rule than what we could have achieved under British rule. Yes, we have grown economically since we achieved Merdeka but then, is that all? What about unity? What about equality of treatment & sharing of the nation’s wealth? Is it really worth the celebrations after 49 years of Merdeka?
The younger generations like me may not have lived before Merdeka through the British ruling and as such may not appreciate the difference and the joy of being independent. Irrespective of our backgrounds, for a person who was born in Malaysia, this is the country that we call home and there is no doubt that we shall defend its sovereignty to our last breath.
Unfortunately, not many of us are sharing similar sentiments. They are still trapped in a pre-Merdeka “historical mentality” that says that not all Malaysians should be treated equally, just because they are not sons of the land. They think that some of us are here on “charity” citizenship and as such, don’t deserve to be treated as equal citizens in rights and treatment.
They call themselves natives although some of them may have lived and worked in Malaysia for a period much less than those who are considered as an immigrant. Often, we feel like being treated as second-class citizens despite the unquestionable effort, patriotism and love for the country.
So, would we be better off under British rule?
For some, the answer seems to be an affirmative yes. The British in the 50s would have been very different than the British in the 90s but definitely, the grossly misused NEP would not have existed under British rule and despite having a foreign ruler; some sense of fairness would have prevailed. In times of frustration and regret, it is understood and I don’t blame them because I feel the same way too.
In case you have not realised it, we are still subject to the pre-Merdeka “divide and rule” policy that the British used but now it has just been “fine-tuned” and used under the disguise of various policies by the ruling political party. They always seem to be ready to use the racist card to meet their own political and personal mileage.
They seem to keep one race perpetually and artificially in need of Government aid whilst accusing the others of sabotaging the so-called unity among races. They put the interest of their political party interest first even if it means the national interest is screwed left right centre. It’s not surprising though – after all, they are politicians and politicians are not expected to be acting as saints.
Is this the kind of Merdeka that we want to celebrate – a society that is being consistently kept on the toes with the threat of racial and religious issues? Add security issues as well. If it is the case, then we have not learned anything in the last 49 years and are better off having a foreign ruler. Why take the trouble of governing on our own if you can’t do things straight and right for once?
We could celebrate the country’s Merdeka Day as proud Malaysians regardless of colour, religion and political background. But it may not happen in this lifetime, not when some politicians are sticking out in the society like a sore thumb and continue to incite and implement policies that will keep away the forming of a single race known as Malaysian.
Perhaps it’s time to liberate our beloved country from this kind of politician who has done nothing much, let alone has the right virtues to mention the word “Merdeka” to others. Continuing to expose and highlight the wrongdoings of such politicians should be a constant act in such liberation.
Any action done should always be in the interest of the nation irrespective of the background of its people. Only when we recognize ourselves as Malaysians first and then by our race & beliefs, we have truly gained our independence.
Until then, “Selamat Hari Merdeka” – if it still has its meaning and relevance these days.