Thursday, September 01, 2005

Merdeka 48 and our "batik" society


A day after the 48th Merdeka celebrations in Malaysia, I am suffering from Merdeka fatigue.

I saw some fireworks display in the early morning hours of Merdeka. Gosh, I thought it is only appropriate to let off the fireworks after the stroke of midnight but at my hometown, it came almost 20 minutes past midnight! Not that I am griping but you should see all the other motorists who were getting edgy standing or sitting in their cars by the roadside all over town. Not a few of us were wondering if we have been made a fool for staying up so late to witness a no-show! Anyway, I digress.

Today's major newspapers, as usual, carry lovely colourful pictures of the parade and the multi-racial crowd mingling peacefully and waving the requisite flags. It seems to me that the papers took great pains to interview as many non-bumiputra revellers just so to show that these people are REALLY patriotic, in spite of what is actually happening in our country. Why the need to show proof? I guess it is because year in and year out, we have a Minister of Information who had to scold and chide the public for not displaying our Jalur Gemilang in our houses, cars, offices, what nots. Seems to me that, just as it is with our society which paid great value on appearances as proof of your religious and moral convictions, the same goes to our BIG BROTHER that you are less patriotic if you do not fly the national flag come Merdeka Day. Never mind that some of the biggest flag fliers are tax defaulters, corruptors, racists, etc. There I go again.

I would like to believe that we are all loyal patriotic citizens who would do anything to ensure that Malaysia remains a peaceful and stable country. The most obvious proof is in the results of each General Election. Much as we dislike some of our politicians who contribute nothing to the betterment of our society other than remaining loud mouthpieces of their political masters who aim to secure their grip on the country by playing THE winning racial card all the time, we continue to vote them in each time. Does this not at least score us some brownie points where patriotism is concerned? How much more patriotic can we be when we continue to elect you guys who demean and humiliate us with kris and various racist agendas? All we want to do is to live peacefully in our country of birth, that is why we are not rocking the boat just yet. Yes, I also guess that the same old threats of May 13 each general election season does work wonders in sending shivers down our spine too.

But I feel sad this Merdeka Day, sadder than ever before. I feel that with a new Prime Minister, we have taken a direction down an untrodden path of increasing boldness among the powerful to shove things down our throat. Pak Lah seems to condone his young charges to spout racist slogans and agendas in public. It seems like it is the "free-for-all" season for the Malays to come all out and renew the policy of "Ketuanan Melayu". Where did all these ideas came from? Surely this is not what we envisaged when BN won a thumping majority during the last GE. I suppose the very first sign that all is not what we expected it to be came with the first evidence being in the final cabinet line-up.

I wish that the Malays can rise above such crippling mindset and dangerous political plays to embrace an equitable society for the benefit of everyone. UMNO can do much more to help the Malays to face up to the challenges of a globalised world. It takes more than mere dishing out university degrees and government jobs to create a truly competitive class of Malays able to survive and thrive ANYWHERE in this world. Whatever happened to sheer hard work and doggedness? Where is the "maruah" of always being labelled "jaguh kampung"s in a borderless world? What is so shameful in allowing the non-Malays to work with you in raising our country's competitiveness in the world and creating a world class society? Why must it always be "Malay Agenda" and "bumiputra-rights"? Is it even recognised elsewhere in this world?

Malaysia is akin to a beautiful piece of batik, the pride of our craftsmen and a symbol of the beauty of Malaysia. Like the batik master who has to first visualise the design, before painstakingly transforming it into a work of art, our society is best reflected in the various colours and flowing strokes that typically adorns this much-loved fabric. Malaysians of all races love it and are proud of it, although this artform is traditionally associated with the Malays. Tourists and visitors to the country too love the vibrant hues of the batik. But can you imagine if the batik is only drawn out in ONE single colour? No matter what the design is, if the batik is only allowed to be dyed in ONE particular colour, will it have the same kind of appeal?

Therein lies the sticky truth about Malaysia and its people. Some people intentionally forget that Malaysia is made up of such diverse people of different race, culture and religion. Like it or not, we have lived together side by side for more than a hundred years, way before Merdeka. The success and failure of the mothership that is Malaysia relies on the co-operation of all its people to give and take and support each other through good times and bad. We either float or sink together in the ever changing weather of global conditions.

But a section of our society, and I will dare to spell it out that it is the Malays I am talking about, continue to insist that they are the only ones that mattered in Malaysia. UMNO continues to mislead the Malays into believing that it their right to wipe out all the colours of the Malaysian fabric and to identify the Malaysian society as a Malay society. One shade of colour shall rule above all else, one identity, one race and one religion shall reign supreme. Sadly, if UMNO's political games are allowed to succeed, we will see the sad day when the shine of Malaysia will be reduced to a dull shade of grey. Societies will be made up of selfish sections dominated by racial, religious and cultural concerns. It will be a "ME" against "THEM" because one race (Malay) will be pitted against all others. Much sorrow can only result if ever this happens.

I can only hope that there are enough decent Malaysians who can rise above such dangerous political ploys being played out in our society to protest and make themselves heard. Everyone stand to lose if there are more UMNO leaders, emboldened by Hishamuddin's antics, suddenly realise that they have a lot of political points to be gained by jumping on the bandwagon of playing up the race card.

My Merdeka wish and prayers will be that our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will have the moral courage to put a stop to such utterings by his UMNO colleagues and charges. Let us from this day onwards talk about a Malaysian Agenda. Allow us to help each other to succeed instead of pulling each other down the abyss of destruction.

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1 Comments:

Blogger KewlBanana said...

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2/9/05 09:42  

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