In recent days, most of the local media have been filled with coverage of independence day celebrations (in the peninsula and Sabah).
I hate to put a damper on all this fun, but what was the country really celebrating? Were we celebrating a ‘coming out’ party after a two-year lapse, due to the Covid pandemic? Were we celebrating keluarga Malaysia (a Malaysian family)?
Merdeka was first celebrated in the peninsula 65 years ago. What hopes did Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister, have for the fledgling nation?
In his independence proclamation, he said that the nation “with God’s blessing shall be forever a sovereign democratic and independent state founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations”.
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Forever a sovereign democratic and independent state founded upon the principles of liberty and justice… What exactly do these words mean?
Liberty means freedom from oppressive restrictions imposed on one’s way of life, behaviour or political views, freedom from slavery.
Justice means being treated fairly, according to the law of the land. Everybody is equal before the law and this does not mean one law for the rich and powerful and a different law for the ordinary person.
It also means that all Malaysians are to be treated fairly in a democracy, and their rights should not be impinged upon by the government or certain groups of people who take immense pleasure in provoking minority groups.
Tunku also hoped the government would see to “the welfare and happiness of its people”.
But has this government been working hard to promote the happiness and welfare of its people? People’s happiness! People’s welfare!
Those in government and the politicians should ask these questions of themselves. Benefits to themselves, their families and their cronies – yes! But there has been precious little for the people themselves.
Has any one of these politicians had the decency to apologise to the people of Malaysia?
Najib apologised only to his supporters, many of whom seem to have ‘collective amnesia’ in recalling his robbing the country’s coffers. What of the others? None have shown shame or remorse for what they had done!
Tunku also hoped this newly minted sovereign and independent nation would become “a beacon of hope in this distracted and disturbed world”.
That is the reverse of what we are experiencing here in Malaysia. We are no longer a beacon of hope but a more disturbed and distracted nation.
The hearts and minds of many people are gripped by fear and desperation as they try to make ends meet, even though the pandemic has subsided.
The political parties are ramping up their rhetoric, but the political leaders are still the same. There is a lot of worry about the judicial system, especially with certain quarters doing their best to get a royal pardon for the convicted Najib Razak.
If a pardon is allowed, what would it say for the country’s judicial system? What about Najib’s involvement in the 1MDB scandal? Will he be absolved with pardons again? Will all politicians involved in corruption and money laundering be given clemency?
So again, the question, what did we celebrate? We definitely did not celebrate what Tunku hoped for the country, which now includes Sabah and Sarawak. His vision then and what is happening to the country and its people now are totally at odds.
The corrupt leadership that we have had over the years, together with discriminatory policies that block the growth of democracy; a leadership that cares little about the welfare and happiness of its people – this is nowhere near what the founders of this nation had in mind.
Malaysia will continue to be a “disturbed and distracted nation” until our politicians become more humane, more ethical, more decent and more considerate to the needs of the country rather than their own thirst for power and possessions, which right now, knows no limits.
So much of the country has probably just celebrated a ‘post-Covid coming out party’, and as we end these celebrations on 16 September 2022, Malaysia Day, we must look forward to something better on the horizon for the people and the country.
Ultimately, it is we, the people, who’ll shoulder the responsibility of choosing the right leaders for the country. If we fail again, then we will only have ourselves to blame and we’ll suffer the consequences of our actions for the foreseeable future.
jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time