By tomorrow, Malaysia will be 49 years old, and many of us will be scraping ourselves off the carpet in a hungover stupor, trying to make sense of the universe again after a night of hardcore partying. Nothing wrong with partying, of course. Go ahead and knock yourself out. But maybe the festive mood would be better appreciated if we actually gave a thought to what it was we’re celebrating, and who we’re celebrating it with.
I know a lot of us, myself included, have extremely jaded attitudes towards Merdeka. “It’s just a transition from a foreign government to a local one.” “We’re not getting what we want even now, so why give independence much thought anyway?” “Besides, it happened 49 years ago; I don’t have a religious obligation to be all happy and sappy on the 31st of August, do I?” Dudes, you’re not getting the point.
It’s not about governments, it’s about people. If you think the local government isn’t doing much for you, at least you now have the choice to make them see things your way. Snap out of it, we’ve been free for a long time now. If there’s something you don’t like, vote it out. It might not be easy, but I never said it would be. I’m not talking about what happened 49 years ago, either. I don’t mean any disrespect to our veterans – heck, my dad started serving in the Army a full 2 years before Independence – but Malaysia isn’t something we need to remember and commemorate, it’s something we need to constantly keep alive. Am I being sappy? Maybe. But at least I have something to be sappy about. Before 1957, all anyone could be sappy about was the times when we had no one telling us what to do.
Don’t wreck the place tonight. When tomorrow morning comes around, the only people cleaning it up will be us.
Happy Birthday, Malaysia.