Tomorrow is a public holiday. It is a day to mark the 64th year of independence. Period. The day is to get your car washed; buy groceries or go to the market; watch special programmes on TV. Nothing more.
The sloganeering, the rhetoric, the patriotism, unity and togetherness are secondary. This annual observation (read: holiday) is a front for pretenders, hypocrites and those apple-polishing politicians who believe what they say will end years of “my race is mightier than yours” and “my religion rules supreme over all others”.
It is not something new.
They talk about religious tolerance but not acceptance; they talk of a nation for all but not a nation of all. They talk about unity in one breath and scream ketuanan in another.
Bangsa Malaysia remains a pipedream and anyone promoting it should be asked: “What have you been smoking?”
The divide is so deep-rooted and even without the cajoling by self-serving politicians, it continues to go grow deeper, diving into an already a divided nation.
1Malaysia (1MDB will be easier to recall!) coined by the convicted felon has metamorphosised into Keluarga Malaysia with the interceding Abah and Makcik Kiah still in the pupa.
So, will raising the flag once a year immediately instil a new form of patriotism, just like instant noodles?
Yes, radio and television stations – both public and private – are pounding the messages. Yes, many are listening or watching, perhaps because they are interspersed with their favourite Tamil or Korean serial or at halftime of live football matches or news bulletins. But are the messages absorbed? What do they signify?
Is raising the flag at the gate of your house or office is the only way to show patriotism? What purpose does it serve when the next moment you go into an expletive-laden racist attack on your neighbour because he has parked his car in front of your entrance?
Do all these messages mean anything to hundreds of cyber troopers on the payroll of politicians who stir hatred and contempt with their own provocative and divisive messages? Or do they mean anything to the paymasters themselves? For many of them, the end justifies the means.
A week ago, there was some hope. A new prime minister, we had hoped, would introduce fresh faces who will bring in fresh ideas. But last Friday, our hopes landed with a thud and melted in the air. A recycled cabinet devoid of any concepts or notions is what we got.
Have we scrapped the bottom of the barrel? Is this all the talent we have? Or has political expediency superseded all other considerations?
The rent-seekers and cronies will continue to flourish, expecting handouts from new sources because any cut to money means having to change lifestyles. No more RM600 cigars; no more designer T-shirts or even taking a new wife.
The theme (whatever that means) for tomorrow’s holiday is Malaysia Prihatin. We seem to be fixated by the word “prihatin”, which means concerned or cares. But does the government or anyone in government actually care?
Some are busy making videos promoting themselves instead of the cause. Kerepek and curry mee have got celebrity endorsements but is this what we expect of our leaders?
Some demean the learning of English and yet are comfortable falling on their feet by sending out their messages in well-designed posters but blinded by improper use of the language. Are these the people who are going to lead us?
A thousand deaths over three days last week are grim reminders of how the government handled the Covid-19 pandemic. Friday marked the 10th day out of the previous 14 where there were more than 20,000 new cases. Doesn’t this say something?
The warm water cure and the Spanish fly lecture may be behind us, but let these be a constant reminder of the quality of the leaders.
There is a glimmer of hope, though. The new health minister’s hands-on approach in testing and vaccination brought some tangible results. The stance that “the government knows best” has ended.
The consultation process with all stakeholders is expected to be the frontrunner in the fight to return the country to normalcy but lurking in the shadows will be hidden hands for contracts and supplies.
Walking through the quagmire as a principled and no-sense man is not going to be an easy task. The minister must be aware of the dangers within, some sharpening their knives (or keris) to thrust if they do not get their shares of the spoils.
We have had so many religious and cultural festivals which were public holidays. The only option was to stay at home, say your prayers and hope for the best.
Is there any reason to rejoice, celebrate or revel tomorrow? If we do, the leaders who fought for self-rule more than six decades ago will cringe, grovel and turn in their graves.
R NADESWARAN says speaking from the heart does not make him unpatriotic or un-nationalistic or a lesser Malaysian.
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