Malaysia Day Today

September 16, 2014

Malaysia Day Today

A Good Message from the Guys at The Malaysian Insider

i love malaysiaToday is Malaysia Day, and in the words of our founding father, “The great day we have long awaited has come at last – the birth of Malaysia. In a warm spirit of joy and hope, 10 million people of many races in all the states of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah now join hands in freedom and unity. We do so because we know that we have come together through our own free will and desire in the true spirit of brotherhood and love of freedom,” Tunku Abdul Rahman had said on September 16, 1963.

True spirit of brotherhood and love of freedom, the two ideals that all Malaysians must remember as we celebrate the 51st year of our nation. See, there is something Malaysians should never be ambivalent about and that is: loving this land of ours.

Granted, there are scoundrels masquerading as leaders and politicians in the country.Granted, the dream of a strong and vibrant two-party democracy is on the ropes, hoisted there by a trampling of the Constitution, greed and utter disregard of the law.Granted, too often these days, everything is seen through the prism of race and religion.

And granted that some of the most unjust actions these days seem directed at Malaysians, patriotic Malaysians.That should not mean we love our country less – in fact, that should spur all Malaysians to rally together for the country’s future sketched out by our founding fathers but dented by actions that seem to hurt us.

We have to speak up and stand our ground for Malaysia, be it on socio-political or economic issues, or even the most basic of rights – the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and equality before law.

Some of us will gather today in picnics across the country, watch the Malaysian flag flutter in the sky, attend a forum or two about the country – because we love our country.And we should continue to do so. After 51 years, we have to rely on ourselves to do what is best for Malaysia if our elected leaders cannot do it for us. We have to unite and make the Malaysia that the Tunku spoke about when Malaysia was formed.

“The Federation of Malaya now passes into history. Let us always remember that the Malayan Nation was formed after many difficulties during a long period of national emergency, yet its multiracial society emerged, endured and survived as a successful and progressive nation, a true democracy and an example to the world of harmony and tolerance.

“As it was with Malaya, so it can be with Malaysia. With trust in Almighty God, unity of purpose and faith in ourselves, we can make Malaysia a land of prosperity and peace.

“In doing so let every Malaysian in all the states of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah ensure that our Malaysia is truly worthy of the aims and hopes we have shared, the trials and stress, we have endured, in working together to achieve our common destiny,” said Tunku Abdul Rahman when ending his speech.

Our common destiny. And that destiny is to live as free people and make Malaysia a better country every day with a government that does not fear shadows as monsters or treat some of the people as enemies.

September 16: Time for Sober Reflection and Renewal

September 15, 2014

September 16: Time for Sober Reflection and Renewal

by Malaysiakini



As Malaysia Day approaches, Putrajaya is reminded of the need to address discontent in Sabah and Sarawak over the perception that it is often left out of the Federation, said NGO Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM). For instance, its chairperson Tan Yew Sing contended, Malaysia has traditionally celebrated National Day together with Independence Day of West Malaysia on August 31, and the anniversary is often counted from 1957.This is despite the Malaysian Federation, the union of West and East Malaysia, coming into being on September 16, 1963.

“In recent years there has been rising discontent, especially from our Sabah and Sarawak brothers andshabery sisters, with the way our National Day is traditionally celebrated,” said Tan.  However, Tan said Communication and Multimedia Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s announcement that from next year onwards August 31 will be clearly stipulated as Independence Day is a “step in the right direction.”

He added the Minister should go a step further by defining Malaysia Day on September 16 to also be National Day. “The Federal Constitution defines Merdeka Day as August 31,1957, it does not give a specific definition for National Day.As such the selection of a date for National Day is a matter of administrative action,” he said.

Irony in using Sedition Act

Tan also expressed concern about the recent string of arrests under the Sedition Act 1948, pointing out that it was ironic to use a colonial era law post-independence.”The British introduced the Sedition Act as a means to suppress the opposition to their rule. How ‘merdeka’ (independence) are we today if the law that the British used to advance their colonial interests, has not only being enhanced after our independence, but also has been applied selectively?” he said.

Tan added despite these prosecutions, groups that have been perpetuating hate speeches appear to go unpunished. As a coalition of NGOs from different backgrounds, GBM urges all the citizens of Malaysia to be part of the effort to bridge our differences – ethnically, spiritually or ideologically – and prove that diversity is strength that needs to be upheld as part and parcel of our nation building,” he said.


Malaysia@ 51: Happy Birthday

September 14, 2014

Malaysia: 51 Years Old on September 16

by Din Merican

Jalur Gemilang

On Tuesday September 16, Malaysians celebrate our country’s 51st Birthday. It was the day in 1963 when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia. There were high expectations all round. I remember that day well since I was on duty at Wisma Putra (located in the Secretariat Building opposite the Royal Selangor Club, Kuala Lumpur) during the night of September 16, when our Embassy in Jakarta was attacked by angry anti-Malaysia mobs. For two years, our  brave soldiers, friends and allies defended our country against hostile forces which were determined to break up the new nation by force, while our diplomats worked tirelessly to convince the world that Malaysia was not “a neo-colonialist plot.” Much water has gone under the bridge since then.

It would be churlish if we did not acknowledge that Malaysia made tremendous strides towards becoming a developed nation. Look around; everywhere we go, be it in Sabah, Sarawak, or on the mainland, we see and feel the change. Yet we are neither excited nor hopeful about our future as a people and as a nation. Progress is visible but the Malaysian dream remains unfulfilled. Unity is under threat from ultra nationalists and the self proclaimed defenders of the Islamic Faith. Authoritarianism rears its ugly head in recent weeks with the indiscriminate use of the Sedition Act, 1948, a relic from the British colonists who granted us independence.

Economically, yes as measured on GDP per capita basis, but socially we are increasingly divided along lines of religion and race. Politically, we have yet to mature as a democracy, and national integration has stalled. Sabahans and Sarawakians are made to feel that they are not in the mainstream of our national life. 1Malaysia is a slogan devoid of much meaning since politicians choose to separate us. We have become very hostile towards one another.

There is talk of secession. Banish that thought and focus on development and good governance, please. Those who promote that idea need to ask themselves whether they would have been better off if Sabah had joined the Philippines, and Sarawak had chosen to be part of Indonesia. Would Sabahans and Sarawakians have fared better if they attained independence on their own from the British in 1963 ?

Joining Malaysia was definitely a good decision, and Sabahans and Sarawakians wisely chose to join Malaya to form Malaysia. It has survived and prospered for 51 years and there is NO reason why our country should break up now and there is no way, in my view, we can allow Sabahans and Sarawakians to go their separate ways.

Why are politicians in two states promoting this secession idea now? People like Jeffery Kitingan and his supporters basically want power. Their best chance to get power is to exploit the rising tide of discontent among indigenous people. Putrajaya would, therefore, be well advised to address the root causes of this dissatisfaction with the existing federalism where too much control resides at the center (in Putrajaya). It is going to take a special breed of leaders to instill an acute sense of patriotism for Malaysia in the people of Sabah and Sarawak. What kind of a leader is such a person. In this connection, I wish to quote Teddy Roosevelt who said:

“In order to succeed we need leaders of inspired idealism, leaders to whom are granted great visions, who dream greatly and strive to make their dreams come true; who can kindle the people with the fire from their own burning souls. The leader for the time being, whoever he may be, is but an instrument, to be used until broken and then to be cast aside; and if he is worth his salt he will care no more when he is broken than a soldier cares when he is sent where his life is forfeit in order that the victory may be won.”

 No 4 Kamsiah and DinThis is a message (from Dr Kamsiah and I) to all our leaders in government and  to those in the political opposition. It is true that our politics is adversarial in nature. That is fine as long as politicians engage in reasoned discourse, and take responsibility and are accountable for their words, promises, policies and actions. They would be well advised not to engage in the politics of race and religion. The way forward is the politics of national unity.

It is time we in Peninsula Malaysia walk together with our brothers and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak in an exciting journey towards a truly united Malaysia with opportunities for all. We must dedicate ourselves to the quest for freedom, peace, justice, democracy and economic progress. Our country is still a work in progress and much depends on what we do from here on. There is plenty for each and every one of us to undertake to make Malaysia an oasis of opportunity. We must contribute towards making national integration a reality.

Let us stay connected to each other via, sms,  e-mail, Facebook, blogs, What’s App, and twitter and to our respective state assemblies and Parliament. Happy Birthday, Malaysia.


Banish all thoughts of secession

September 13, 2014

Banish all thoughts of secession

by Tunku A.

I BELIEVE on September 18, the Scots will pull back from the abyss of their autumn madness and the slogan “End London rule” will recede into history. The “no” vote will save the day.

Scotland will still be there as part of Great Britain because the Scots have their heads well-screwed on their shoulders. They have always known what is good for them and that, for a long time, has been the historic union with England, Wales and Ulster. It is often said in jest that the only road a Scotsman knows is the road to London, and therein lies the nub of the matter.

Scottish-referendumDavid Cameron’s Folly

Stripped off the strident nationalist hysteria for independence, what emerges for all to see is the sense of economic deprivation and marginalisation with huge pockets of neglect in that otherwise vibrant and exciting land. This is not peculiar to the United Kingdom: countries all over the world are continually wrestling with the problem of uneven social and economic development.

In the final analysis, where the investment eventually goes is a decision made by a hard-nosed businessman; it is his money. Generous government incentives to investors to venture to a new development area do not always succeed.

What the Scots decide to do with their referendum is entirely their own business, and it is really no skin off cameron-radicalmy nose. But in truth, I fear that David Cameron’s act of sheer folly in agreeing to a referendum when there was absolutely no earthly need for one, could well lead to undesirable consequences and repercussions for other federations the world over, such as ours.

Already, rumblings can be heard in Sabah and irresponsible elements are wasting no time fomenting political unrest. Attempts by earlier Sabah leaders to incite disaffection and disloyalty were quickly nipped in the bud by Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman.

In Sabah, the DAP and PKR have, for years now, been telling the people of Sabah that theirs is the richest state in Malaysia but why is it that per capita they are the poorest? They are told that it is due to Federal Government corruption. Then there is the unfair allocation of development funds and the miniscule share of the oil revenue for them. They are also told that the oil royalties given to Sabah are derisory.

To the largely illiterate and ill-informed Sabahans, all these half-truths and innuendoes presented as the absolute truth and backed by postings on the DAP-sponsored blogs, are all grist to the opposition disinformation mill.

What the opposition parties deliberately hide from the people is the mismanagement of the economy by many of the earlier chief ministers and ruling politicians, and nothing to do with Kuala Lumpur. Sabah today is a victim of the abuse of its rich, abundant natural resources by the political leadership in the past for personal gain.

Jalur GemilangStay Strong and United for Our Country

In spite of all this, I think, as a state of the Federation of Malaysia, Sabah has done well. Those who, like me, lived and worked in British North Borneo in 1960-61, two years before Malaysia, are frankly amazed at the all-round progress made by Sabah as a state of the federation. It was a colonial backwater with an economy that was rudimentary in the extreme. The native people were living from hand to mouth, and education was generally rough and ready.

In Sabah today, we have large numbers of highly educated and trained professionals who are running their own show. This is as it should be. They control Immigration and they cannot say that Malaysians from the peninsula are taking their jobs. They, on the other hand, enjoy the freedom to work anywhere on the “mainland” — the best of both worlds.

Those in Sabah and elsewhere who are thinking of inciting unrest for political advantage, please remember that it is ever so easy to destroy, but it is extremely difficult to build a united Malaysian society. Years after independence, we are a people still in search of a national identity. We stand or fall on the strength of our commitment and loyalty to our nation.

History has put us in the same boat and it would not do to rock it. All of us Malaysians of diverse cultures, religions and races have a duty to protect the values that define our “Malaysianness” and the special ties that bind us must continue to be strengthened.

tunku-azizThose who have been misled into believing that Sabah had joined Malaya to form Malaysia should read the constitution of our country. Sabah joined an established federation of states that had been constituted as the Federation of Malaya in 1948.

What many referred to as Malaya was the Federation of Malaysia and Malaya was never politically a unitary state. Sabah joined the other states to form Malaysia. It is just another state of the Federation of Malaysia just as the other states.

We have our work of nation-building cut out for us. There is enough work for all to help build a strong, united, peaceful and prosperous Malaysia. Let September 16 be a day of re-dedication of our commitment to a strong and united Malaysia that we love and cherish.


Remembering Merdeka

August 30, 2014

Remembering Merdeka

by Tunku Abdul

tunku-azizMANY of the 300 young Malayans, men and women, who heard the news first-hand ahead of the official announcement in Malacca, that their country would be an independent nation on August 31, 1957 are, sadly, no longer with us to celebrate the 57th Merdeka anniversary tomorrow. The years have taken their toll: the survivors have not been spared the ravages of time.

Those of us who took our places in the Kirkby College Hall on that grey, overcast and bitterly cold February afternoon to welcome Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, our honoured visitor and future Prime Minister of independent Malaya, had expected nothing more momentous than the standard homily about “working hard and playing hard” that distinguished visitors always seemed to be armed with. The Tunku quickly got into his stride and spoke without notes, in a tone of voice that gave not the slightest hint of what he had in store for his listeners.

He began by telling us that he and his colleagues had been in London holding constitutional talks at Lancaster House with Her Majesty’s Government on Malayan independence. He went on to say that they were extremely pleased with the outcome of the meeting which had paved the way for the country’s independence. He attributed the success of his Merdeka Mission to the “trust and goodwill on all sides”.

He paid special tribute to the people of Malaya for their unstinting support in the quest for freedom. This had proved to be an important point in convincing the British that the various Malayan races were at one in their demand for independence.

Then, without warning, he broke the welcome news that stunned us. Merdeka would be granted on August Tunku31, 1957, God willing. The date until then had been a closely-guarded secret, and how privileged we felt to be the first Malayans to hear the glad tidings.

It took a second or two for the full import of the momentous announcement to sink in before the assembly, as if on cue, broke into a restrained round of applause.Understated would aptly describe our reaction: British reserve had triumphed over our traditional Malayan exuberance. I suppose the freezing English winter weather was partly to blame for the less than wildly boisterous reaction to the historic occasion.

What tangled thoughts ran through our minds as we began the process of bringing them into some semblance of order, I could only guess? It would be fair to say that most of us harboured, albeit secretly, grave doubts about the country’s future.

We wondered whether the two major communities, the Chinese and the Malays, would be able to find accommodation and live in peace and harmony. Continuing, the Tunku reminded us that the fight for freedom without democracy would be quite meaningless. He talked about our duties and responsibilities as citizens of a free country, and how important it was for all Malayans to live in harmony so as to ensure lasting peace and prosperity for all. It was a message that continues to be relevant and, perhaps, even more so in today’s political climate.

We were not too sanguine about the country’s long-term prospects for racial harmony having read enough about what the coming of independence had done, a decade earlier, to India. The spectre of widespread ethnic and religious violence that so marred and blighted India’s independence was very much in the forefront of our collective consciousness.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous speech to the Indian Constituent Assembly on Aug 15, 1947, Tryst with Destiny, containing that memorable line, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, as the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom” made a deep impression on most of us young people.

Nehru more than Mahatma Gandhi was my inspiration. Tunku came later as a leader I admired greatly. Even as the great Indian statesman was speaking, India was engulfed in flames: the streets of that ancient land were awash with Hindu, Sikh and Muslim blood. Religious violence still breaks out in parts of India with regular monotony. We had every reason to fear for the future of our country, and that was only natural. Were we ready for independence with all that this implied in social, political and economic terms? It was a question that loomed large for us then.

For all the apprehension about what the future might bring, none of us would ever forget the event that unfolded in that little corner of rural Lancashire on February 7, 1956. It was in a very real sense the beginning of a dramatic spiritual journey into the unknown for all Malayans, and unlike most journeys, there was no turning back when the Union flag finally came down past the midnight hour on the Selangor Club Padang. It might have signalled the imminent end of empire for the British, but for us it was the dawn of a new life, the life that we were at long last free to live as we chose.

merdekaWhen we reacquired our country in 1957 through negotiations, we set to with a will to confound our detractors and prove how wrong they were all along. Few thought we would survive the first few years on our own, and yet, 57 years later, despite the teething problems and birth pangs of a new nation, we remain a people deeply committed to multiracialism as a way of life.

When we think of the complexity of our society, what we have achieved for our country borders on the miraculous. As we stride out proudly to celebrate our many achievements tomorrow, let us remember that the key to our future is racial harmony and unity of purpose. We have much to be grateful for: the future is in our hands.

Many Happy Returns of the Day, Malaysia.

57 Years of Trials, Tribulations and Successes

August 30, 2014

57 Years of Trials, Tribulations and Successes

by Tan Sri Johan


THE number “57” has a significant meaning. Malaysia, born in 1957, will be 57 this year. So far, this year has not been easy. Too many things have happened in the last eight months. There was never a dull day in the world in 2014 so far.

Perhaps it is true, the Year of the Wooden Horse under the Chinese zodiac is not going to be an easy one. Some believe calamities, turmoil and uncertainties will be the order of the year. There is simply too much “energy” out there.

So far not so good. Malaysia, too, has its share of problems. The national airline, already crippled by financial burden, endured two incidences that will definitely redefine the aviation industry — the spectacular disappearance of MH370 and the shooting down of MH17. Malaysians were united in those tragedies.

We have come this far. It wasn’t an easy journey though. We had our fair share of trials and tribulations. Six Prime Ministers and 57 years later, we have our proud moments and some bad ones. Our leaders are not perfect. But they have tried their best. We will not be where we are today had it not been for their vision, tenacity and commitment. There are countries that became independent about the same time but are still struggling economically.

6 PMs of MalaysiaLeft to Right: Tunku, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Dr. Mahathir, Tun Abdullah,  Dato Seri Najib  Tun Razak

This is not an easy country to govern. Diversity has its perils. Multiculturalism sounds good as a discourse but is not easy to manage. Religion can divide and the division can be severe. Voices of reason can easily be silenced by the noisy few.

People of different races can simply drift apart. We can see some cracks on unity. We are acutely aware of some segments of our society promoting bigotry and hate in the name of religion and race. Left unchecked, it will destroy us.

Where were we when the clock struck 12 midnight, August 31, 1957? We were not even sure of our destiny yet we were proud and the pride was contagious. Sceptics were saying, we can’t even manufacture a jarum (needle) what good was merdeka? The people were largely poor, especially the Malays.

1957 was the year of Semerah Padi, the second film helmed by P. Ramlee for the Malay Film Productions company and Pontianak starring the stunningly beautiful Maria Menado at Cathay Keris Films.

The newspaper Berita Harian was published that year, 10 years ahead of Utusan Malaysia, the Romanised edition of Utusan Melayu, the flag bearer of the company of the same name. That was the year of The Bridge on the River Kwai, directed by supremo David Lean. That was the year when James Agee wrote A Death in the Family, and The West Side Story became a hit Broadway Show.

The first truly soap opera, Peyton Place was featured on TV. A Frenchman, hailed as one of the pioneers of “absurd literature”, Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Tough action hero and notorious romantic Humphrey Bogart of Casablanca fame died. The population of the world was 2.8 billion.

Things were less complicated back then in this country. The kentung called the villages for prayers and emergencies in the villages. The price of kuih was 2 sen. And a ringgit could buy a lot of things. A kati (before the measurement was in kilogram) of rice was the price of a day’s work. I was in my fourth year in a primary school when Tunku Abdul Rahman saw the lowering of the Union Jack in Kuala Lumpur.

What is merdeka to us? What does it mean to Malaysians? Besides the parade, the rituals, the celebration, Hari Kemerdekaan (Independence Day) should be a reflection of all things past and the need to move forward. We have achieved great things, our economic success is the envy of many and our infrastructures are world-class. We need to identify areas of weakness. Let’s ask some serious questions on unity and equality. Let’s talk about the quality of life. Let’s relook at our education system that is supposed to bind us, and the national language that is the denominator of unity.

“Di sini bermulanya sebuah cinta” (where love grows) adopted as the tagline for this year’s Hari Kemerdekaan was a line from a hugely popular Sudirman song. Independence Day is also about national consciousness, patriotism and the sense of belonging — the values that many believe are eroding in the making of a nation.

Let’s just remind ourselves of the challenges ahead as a people and a nation — together we shall prevail as one. Dirgahayu Malaysiaku!