Tuesday 1 September 2015

Malaysia's 58th Merdeka Celebration 2015

Malaysia's independence day celebration this year was very different indeed. Everything seemed washed with yellow on social media, photos, whatsapp messages and even in our own home.

For a long time now Merdeka day to us was simply a holiday from work. A time to catch up on sleep, time to spend with friends and family and watch the annual parade held in Dataran Merdeka on national television. Not to mention back then when we only watched TV, the shows, cartoons and programmes that would be lined up all day. We were just plain hard working ordinary citizens who needed a break and a public holiday was more than welcome.

This year's celebration however seemed to be more meaningful. As a nation we faced all kinds of bad, as in my earlier posting which you can read in My Beloved Malaysia and we have changed. This year we thought what it was to be Malaysian. The good, bad and what it meant for the future of our children (Chapati and baby#2)

Saturday 29th August 2015 2 pm started the Bersih 4.0 rally which ended on Sunday 30th August 2015 midnight. The demands for Bersih 4.0 were simple:-

  • Free and fair elections
  • A transparent government
  • The right to demonstrate
  • Strengthening the parliamentary democracy system
  • Saving the national economy

It was a time and place for all Malaysians who had no other avenue to express their disappointment and dissatisfaction about the state of our country and economic situation. As usual many quarters decided to make it a racial issue. What I cannot understand for example is how calling for accountability and making those responsible for massive corruption be taken to task has anything to do with it. Anyway, we only pray and hope that more and more people are less inclined to play the race card and understand that Malaysia is Malaysia because of the rich diversity of its people.

There were some who said that those of us who supported what Bersih stood for were "shallow and poor in patriotism". But I believe that without Bersih a lot of people would not have been able to meaningfully celebrate our Independence Day including our family. Here are some of our own celebrations at home due to Bump.

It was amazing to see Malaysians coming out in full force to show love and loyalty to our country, wanting to see change and progress.

Look at this awesome aerial photo, a sea of yellow! A turn up of 500,000 people. Of course some mainstream media and newspapers prefer to report 20,000 but we all know better. There was a little excitement here and there about food poisoning and fireworks going off the in the crowd. Small disruptions when you think of previous police and FRU personnel involvement. But overall, it was peaceful and everyone who went there made their mark!

A testament to Malaysians being civic minded and generous. There were many people who volunteered their time and money, cleaning up rubbish, offering food and water to participants, providing medical assistance, legal assistance (if needed) and the list goes on. Everyone pulled together to make this a successful rally.

Finally the celebration on the actual day.

Honestly when Hubby and I were driving on Merdeka Day, there was noticeable lack of all things "Merdeka" in the city. We hardly saw any flags, no noticeboards wishing Malaysians a "Selamat Merdeka", no big announcements of the parade and other events. We remember in years past, every commercial/office building, shopping centres and main highways would carry the Jalur Gemilang of all sizes! So, for all the talk by politicians about celebrating Merdeka, it would seem that the government didn't put in any money or effort into bringing about the spirit and festivity of the day. If not for Bersih, it would just be another public holiday.

As a friend on Facebook put it rather well, we want a better future for our country, we love our country and want to see change, we will not tolerate the continuous abuse to the people and economy.

It also brought about Malaysians who want to be a force for change. During this time a friend launched Projek57: A movement of hope and Tony Pua made it a point to raise more awareness for Impian Sabah and Sarawak by doing sketches to raise more funds.

If we are going to continue to live in Malaysia, we as parents we really have to teach our children about diversity, acceptance rather than just tolerance, love, progressiveness and unity. Easy to say really hard to do, because it takes a lot of time, effort and being really intentional about it.

Things will change, it will not be immediate but we are all looking forward to better tomorrows.


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