Lucky number 7. I’ve been tagged by Peter Tan to participate in the 50 Posts To Independence project initiated by Nizam Bashir. And yes, I know I’m late. But isn’t doing something at the last minute a very Malaysian thing to do?
Anyway, here it goes. In the event of dissatisfaction with the post, requests for refunds will not be entertained.
20 years before the world witnessed my own crying arrival, this nation, the land for which I’ll spill my blood, assumed a new identity, conceived in the political backrooms from here to the British Isles, forged in a slew of documents signed by dignitaries both celebrated and anonymous, and announced to straining ears and trembling hearts on a stage in the middle of a football stadium.
50 years on, this nation, whose people apparently live in harmony and in prosperity, has grown a little fatter, having added a few eastern states around its waist, and a little wealthier too, being able to undergo several cosmetic surgeries at the cost of billions of dollars. It has made lots of friends, not just because of its neutral demeanour and non-interfering approach to other nations’ lives, but also occasionally to its friendly and caring attitude to nations that tend to be considered pariahs by the world’s rich and powerful clique.
Like many a 50-year-old Malaysian, this nation, with God-given blessings of happiness, has been looking forward to its 50th birthday with mounting excitement, but not without some degree of trepidation. For it is usually around your 50th, or to be fair, at any significantly advanced birthday age, when one begins to look back at one’s life and wonder whether you have achieved anything of significance thus far. This is because at 50, you’ve not only run past the final turn, but you can now see the finish line ahead.
Of course, this doesn’t mean Malaysia is as middle-aged as a 50-year-old Malaysian, but it does have one thing in common – it’s had enough time to make mistakes and enough opportunities to learn from them. And at 50, you begin to show just what you’re made of.
And what is our nation made of? Well, it’s made out of the blood, toil, tears and sweat of many a hardworking resident (not all whom hold a valid MyKad). It’s made out of the wealth of the rich and of the poor, of the generous and of the stingy, of the kindness of strangers and of the gullibility of the swindled. It’s made out of the inventions of the few and of the failures of the many. It is made out of the courage of our fighting soldiers, and of the cowardice of our skulking criminals. It is made out of the speeches of our statesmen and of the lies of our con men.
But perhaps, more than anything, this nation is made out of promises.
50 years ago, it was a promise by our colonial “protectors” that led to that momentous occasion in that football stadium. It was a promise of multi-racial co-operation and harmonious self-government that attracted the faithful to the polls in their thousands. It was a promise of freedom from oppression, of freedom from discrimination.
More promises were made as the years went by. The promise to treat one as an equal in the eyes of the law. The promise to care for the welfare of one and all, regardless of status, religion, race, colour, language, physical and mental ability, wealth or even fashion sense. The promise of living comfortably during your golden years after having spent the vast majority of your life contributing your blood, toil, tears and sweat to nation-building (even if you weren’t carrying a valid IC).
At 12 years of age, the nation had to break a few promises. It had to, under the circumstances, and by most accounts, it broke its heart in doing so. But in the event, it made several new promises – big promises. It promised to help its backward citizens, while rewarding its progressive residents. It promised to bake a bigger pie, and ensuring everyone got a healthy slice. It promised to make millionaires of the enterprising, and to lend a helping hand to the clueless.
The nation grows older. The promises keep coming. Everyone can afford a car now, it promised. Everyone can afford quality health care. Everyone will experience free, quality education. Everyone will be earning more money. Everyone will be paying less for more. Everyone will be surfing online at high speeds with their own affordable personal computer. Everyone will get a job, regardless of level of education. Everyone will be free.
Everyone will be Malaysian.
50 years on, I still live in hope that this nation, where our King reigns in peace, keeps its word.
Happy 50th, Malaysia. Live long and prosper.
There you go. And now I’m supposed to tag the next person in line, who will unfortunately have to finish it by the 27th of July. Yeah, I know. That’s in two days. You can thank my tardiness for that.
And thus, I tag Meesh. I’m sooooooo sorry for the last minute warning, but I trust your take on Merdeka will be well worth the pressure.
Here are the posts in this series to date. Read them all, cos they’re great!
50, 49, 48, 47, 46, 45, 44, 43, 42, 41, 40, 39, 38, 37, 36, 35, 34, 33, 32,31, 30, 29, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.