Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Merdeka spirit, where art thou?

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_Malaysia

So, it has come to this.

Independence day is almost upon us (those of you working in the heart of the city can definitely concur – the road closures, random traffic holdups for the raptai, the aeroacoustics of whooshing jets) and yet, there seems to be a pervasive apathy towards the anniversary of our independence.

You may say that I am sorely mistaken – that I am filled with pessimism and there is an air of festivity.  

Eh, Merdeka sales damn good la! 59% off, okay? Damn cheap, you know.
What are you doing on Merdeka day? I’ll be nursing a mid-week hangover after attending the Merdeka party.
Have you not seen the Merdeka ads? It was so touching.

If heavily marked-down products, copious amount of alcohol and corporate-sponsored advertisements that try their best to tug at your heartstrings is a show of patriotism, I applaud you for your positive outlook on life.

No, ladies and gentlemen, and everyone in between, what about that sense of pride and excitement that is usually more palpable around this period? Where are the obnoxiously flapping flags?

It is probably a combination of factors – the delightful intricacies of our country’s upper management’s behaviour, the perceived injustices, the economic uncertainty and the ubiquitous bigots which has caused disillusionment and bred a certain degree of selfishness within us.

Despite my naturally glum nature, I will admit that unity can be found in the unlikely of areas if you know where to look. We did have a period of brief escapism during the Olympics. We all cheered and rooted as one, for one – Malaysia. The pride, the hope, the nail-biting secondhand fear, the acknowledgement that our athletes gave their all during the recent Olympics – for those few hours, we were united as Malaysians.

From my personal experience, walk into a powerlifting/crossfit gym, spend some time in a soup kitchen or an animal shelter, a relatively tough neighbourhood and you will realise, that maybe, what Tunku Abdul Rahman said in his independence speech, “…founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations.”, is not that much of a stretch.

Therefore, each time I see a car or house proudly displaying the Malaysian flag, I’d like to think that is one person whose Merdeka spirit has not completely vamoosed, one who is able to look through the veil of cynicism to remain emotionally invested in Malaysia.

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