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Merdeka Reflections

31st August 2021

Merdeka this time around doesn’t seem to invoke any spirit of patriotism. Looking around, I suspect many in the city share the same sentiment. The national political unfolding has been a great disappointment to many. From the time our duly elected government lost Putrajaya in March last year till now, a cloud of depression has been hanging over the nation. What more with the Covid-19 related deaths and the imbecile handling of the SOPs adding to the sense of helplessness. Being in lockdown, hearing of people losing their jobs and committing suicide.

We had a small spark of hope when the PN govt fell only to find out they regrouped under a different leader but with the same faces. No change, but only for those who wanted power and control, they got more of it.

In every storm, there has to be a silver lining. Perhaps the silver lining we look for now is found in the “Lawan” resistance which sprung up out of frustration over what is happening in our nation. There has been many groups in the last 20 years, but this Lawan movement seem different. They seem to represent the young Malaysians of all races coming out of their parents and grandparents shadows of a Malaysia divided by race. They are the Gen Z and late millennial generations. Perhaps between 18 and 30. I have children in that range.

This is the generation of Instagrammers and social media. They’re more community minded and the key word I hear is “inclusiveness.” The lawan group who protested peacefully and who were subsequently arrested are patriotic Malaysians who know that things are not as they should be and seem eager to reshape a new Malaysia.

The old guard is tired and will soon leave the political scene. Malaysia has been driven by the historical narrative of race which has shaped our politics and the way we live. The old Merdeka politicians continue to insist on the landlord and tenant idealogy for Malaysia (Ketuanan Melayu). Malays rule because they are the landlords, the other races are “pendatang” (guests) and should know their place and be grateful. This is no real unity. This is sustained only by fragile “tolerance” of one another.

With the younger Malaysians, I hope they will hold fast to their ideals of a Malaysia for all Malaysians. To truly believe we are one nation, building a home together and in our diversity we shape a Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian race) with a uniquely Malaysian culture. To the young Malaysians, I say, don’t leave Malaysia. Its not a fight you started, it’s a struggle which started almost 23 years ago and it now depends on you to make it happen.

So while there is a gloom over Malaysia this 31st of August, it is not without hope. The hope rests on our young, idealistic, passionate Malaysians.

Selamat Menyambut Hari Merdeka ke-64

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