As we celebrate independence

Merdeka is the privilege to chart our own path, write Malaysia’s own history and shape the country free from other influences


Malaysia will celebrate its independence day tomorrow. It is a glorious moment for every Malaysian who calls this beloved nation home. Putrajaya, the country’s administrative capital, will host the Merdeka parade for the second time in history. The long boulevard in Putrajaya, resembling France’s the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, will see thousands of rakyat celebrating.

For some, 61 years may be a long time. But for a nation like Malaysia, it is still a young country. It is still seeking to find its footing. The freedom to rule and govern the country without interference. The right to dictate and decide the country’s destiny and its people.

Merdeka is the privilege to chart our own path, write Malaysia’s own history and shape the country free from other influences.

Malaysia has certainly come a long way. From a backwater and agriculture-based nation, the country with an over 31 million population today has evolved into one of the most dynamic nations in the world.

The country’s economy is already valued at RM1.4 billion. Malaysia is ranked as the 36th-largest economy in the world and third within Asean, according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, based on nomi- nal gross domestic product.

Its rich history and the strength of its people have helped the nation brave many challenges. Its multireligious and multi-ethnic composition have been the pillars of the nation.

Tunku Abdul Rahman, our Father of Inde- pendence, once said: “Some people think that as soon as you plant a tree, it must bear fruit. We must allow it to grow a bit.”

Many still remember the Merdeka spirit of 1957. About four million, or about 11% of the country’s population, are above the age of 60 and would be able to connect to the nation’s struggle for independence.

But the old adage says: “Rome is not built in a day.” Malaysia is at a new juncture as the country “reboots” itself into the new political and social reality, especially since Pakatan Harapan’s historic victory during the 14th General Election (GE14) on May 9.

The growing schism about the past has seen the majority choosing change for a better Malaysia.

The new government led by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Cabinet members are focused on rebuilding and repositioning the nation. The term “Malaysia Baru” (New Malaysia) has become the new mantra for change. Some even claimed that the air also smelled different after GE14.

The term “Malaysia Baru” loosely means a lot of different things. Whether it refers to leaving the office early or cleaning up one’s own table at McDonald’s, the idea is to do things in ways that have never been done before.

It projects a greater sense of freedom. Equality for all irrespective of race, religion and creed.

But the new Malaysia and Malaysians would need to discard old habits, learn new practices, and relearn and adopt to the new world. Malaysians have to be be wiser within a multicultural context. Failure to observe these intricacies will again give rise to racial and religious outrage.

After 61 years of independence, Malaysians must rise above the colour of our skins.

As a nation that has come of age, Malaysians should come to terms with our differences, albeit race or religion, etc.

The nation may be heading toward a “Malaysia Baru”. But it is still the Malaysia we call our home and a nation we should, and can, always be proud of.