Nationhood is sacrosanct to every society.
Making ‘national days’ an integral aspect of people’s lives demands political will, government commitment, and noble values.
Malaysia recently celebrated the anniversaries of its independence from colonial rule. Today, Malaysia Day, celebrates the coming together of three entities – the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak – as a nation.
While the government tries to observe these occasions with events and speeches and public holidays, societal response to these two milestones leaves much to be desired.
Nationhood is carved by political will, government policies and governance, and the people.
When any of these three pillars – political will, government and the people – lags or lacks traction, we cannot build a progressive, resilient nation. We will only end up with a hollow, make-believe society.
Today, as we mark Malaysia Day, we need to admit that many people remain largely disengaged over the significance of Malaysia Day.
Politicians must take a larger slice of the blame for this failure. Fighting and clamouring for political survival has become a perennial obsession in the country.
We are animated when talking about and fighting for political party supremacy rather than standing united as a nation.
Today, politicians are more obsessed with enriching their political parties and clinching more power and dominance. Working in tandem, despite political differences, to strengthen the nation and unite the people has become secondary.
As a result, over the decades, we have created a society that lacks the will, enthusiasm and euphoria over nationhood.
It is time to stop, reflect and change our ways along the path to nationhood. This calls for more mature political thinking. It needs a holistic value system among the people so that they can rise about partisan politics and think of the interests of the nation and its people.
If we fail to make our nation’s celebrations an integral part of our political, social, economic and environmental thrusts, then the price will be devastating in time to come.
When the spirit of nationhood fails or deteriorates into a state of flux, we will end up more divided and weakened. We would be ripe for the picking by exploitative foreign powers.
Let our 2022 Malaysia Day spark a serious reappraisal of national policies and people’s value systems.
Politicians, government and the people – including leaders of religious denominations, civil society and professional institutions or bodies – have an equal stake in this nation-building agenda.
Let this Malaysia Day be a milestone to mark our united fervour for a just nation.