By Social Aktivist Mohd Ustar Bin Haji Abdul Ghani
KOTA KINABALU: On Independence Day I watched my seven years old grand daughter Dalisya, attired in a self made dress from the Malaysian flag singing the late Sudirman’s rendition of Tanggal 31 in a school singing competition commemorating independence day. I wouldn’t exactly know what that meant to her other than walking away with the first prize for a stellar performance. Later in the evening I watched the movie Lee Chong Wei, a story befitting the national day spirit or otherwise a mere replacement of the repeated Sarjan Hassan or Peristiwa Bukit Kepong which has everything of an independence treacherous struggle.
I have never watched National Day celebration live on television let alone be present at the stadium embracing in the ambience of a 64 years of relived and repeated protocol. If that is a measure of patriotism then I would be less patriotic by Malaysian standard to say the least. But hold on. Is patriotism about indulging in things we normally did for the last 64 years, purportedly commemorating our fallen heroes when there was no war engaged to free our nation from the domination of our colonial master, Britain. Is our national day celebration all about remembering the sacred 31st August less the true spirit of 1957 when we Malays, Chinese, Indians and other races brought home together a nation we called home and delivered Malaysia as our source of identity, fulfillment and pride.
It has been 64 years since the first chant of independence and like an echo chamber it resonates to every Malaysians every year comes 31st August or did it?. I was born from a generation who saw the national flag hoisted proudly on national day in probably every homes, business premises or even vehicles whether voluntarily or out of mere exhortation devoid of spiritual attachment or understanding of what it meant. It was much easier to understand the underlying spirit in a much convoluted interpretation of patriotism then than now. Since 1957 the character, audacity and the spirit of partaking in national day celebration has transformed itself either through conflicting political ideologies or fissures in racial integration. Of late the decadence in moral obligation to observe national day is more prevalent and the glory of a day meant for every Malaysians is assumingly drowned in the abyss of lethargy and apathy.
As I reminisced on that movie Lee Chong Wei, what better way could one express his sense of patriotism and being spiritually attached to his beloved country than hoisting the national flag on his bicycle which he rode everyday from his house to his training ground sacrificing his academic achievement all in the name of representing and bringing glory to his nation. Though some find it animated and exaggerated, that conscientious observation of finer detail coming from a chinese movie director is to me a display of real patriotism.
Our 64th National Day came in the wake of a gruelling pandemic and a political turmoil that threw the nation in chaos and confusion. It is difficult to put in perspective how this would augur to a probably most important historical celebration. The absence of our newly elected Prime Minister supposedly quarantined for Covid 19 if anything have taken away much of the needed impetus for a glorious national day celebration. Its easy to understand his absence but strenuous to comprehend what his absence meant on a historical moment like national day celebration. We can only hope for a more meaningful celebration served in the coming years, a celebration where we shall celebrate with a sense of belonging to that nation called Malaysia regardless of race, creed and political ideologies.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY.