Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka...

Saleh Mohammed | .

Dear Malaysian brothers and sisters, do you know or understand what Merdeka Day stands for?

To me, it is 'Independence Day' or the day when the Federation of Malaya gets its independence from the British Empire. However, a few years ago a professor said Malaya was never fully colonised by the British who instead, merely controlled its administration. Why then are we part of the Commonwealth, an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that were mostly territories of the former British Empire? Are you confused, brothers and sisters!

If you noticed, every year we have a theme for the celebration. The idea is to give a particular setting, mood, feeling or address concerns. Looking back from 1970, there were numerous themes ranging from unity, self reliance and looking forward, as in Vision 2020.

Let us look at one very interesting theme, Unity/Harmony. This theme was used 14 times between 1970 to 2014. Even for 2015 and 2016, ‘Malaysia, Sehati Sejiwa’ (One Heart, One Soul), has connotations of unity. That makes up one-third of all the themes since 1970.

Putting it in the context of the corporate world, the government of the day has failed miserably in the area of promoting unity. However, Malaysia is a complex mixture of various races, beliefs and cultures.

One may ask, why unity is emphasised and given prominence? My response would be, why not? I am very sure many of my brothers and sisters reading this article will agree.

The reason why ‘Sehati, Sejiwa’ theme has been retained is, it could enhance the people’s spirit of patriotism and love for the country. There were fears that there would be competition in terms of a globalised approach towards the spirit of nationalism. I think this fear lacks base or not supported by solid evidence.

Patriotism is love for or devotion to one's country. People may differ in political ideologies but patriotism is a different kettle of fish. It is like having knowledge is one thing but being able to communicate it to others is another.

Looking at events in the last couple of years, one will understand the need to emphasise unity since it is a deep-rooted concern. I do not need to list the events here because almost everyone, who is in contact with the various kinds of media, is aware of what they are.

Apart from patriotism and unity, I wish to add good values as another current concern. Moving towards developed nation status, we need our citizenry to have and practice good values. Again, I do not need to list the good values or lack of it. We used to have themes like ‘Berdisplin Berharmoni’ (Discipline and Harmony) in 1981, ‘Amanah Asas Kejayaan’ (Honesty Brings Success) in 1984 and ‘Akhlak Mulia Masyarakat Jaya’ (Good Values Make a Successful Society) in 1997.

I do hope, for next year, the organisers will give due consideration for these sort of themes. Not like the controversial 2012 theme of ‘Janji Ditepati’.

As for the Rakyat, we have our part to play and we have seen pockets of it being highlighted both in mainstream and social medias.

What we need now is the government of the day to be and be seen to be serious in planning and implementating unity programmes. This should include strict enforcements on anyone tending toward sedition and racial tension which has deepened recently.

Let us have meaningful programmes rather than skin-deep initiatives.

Selamat Hari Merdeka to all.

Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka....

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