A couple of weeks ago, my senior colleague forced asked me to participate in a survey in conjunction with our 58th Merdeka celebration. As usual, all things Merdeka will consist of questions like “What do you love most about your country?”, “What does it mean to be Malaysian?”, “Why do you think Malaysia is the most awesomestest, greatest country of all time?” I was very tempted to give my honest to God answers but because it’s for work purposes, I have to restrain myself and be all like, “Malaysia? Yeah it’s exceptional and beautiful and wonderful and all things nice. Yay.” I believe that sincerity shows in everything and that was torturous for me. I felt so pretentious that I seriously couldn’t help but add in a few spoonful of bitter truths here and there.

Photo via: Hafiz Ismail

Photo via: Hafiz Ismail

And then it happened again. I was asked if I could come up with a Merdeka piece for ROJAK. I agreed to try but I will not go “I LOVE MALAYSIA!” from start to finish. I cannot. Let’s be frank here. I have never been the biggest fan of my country. Sure, there are things that we hold up high in pride but don’t even get me started on all the stupid racial and corruption issues that seems to be never-ending these days. The people (not going to mention names but you know who) are so blinded by power, money and dominance that it almost seems like they are working for the sole benefit of themselves, instead of for the betterment of the country. Unfortunately, such is the sinful nature of human greed and the greater the power one possesses, the more likely one is willing to succumb into it.

The thing is, we could all do better than that. I truly believe we can, if we all strive towards the same mind-set, vision and goal we’d like to achieve for our country in the near future. To start off, we need to put our selfish needs, desires and thoughts aside in order for Malaysia to attain the status that it deserves. When you strip it right down to its core, you would come to realize that a country is not a country without its people. I would assume most are aware of the stereotypes and infamous mentality that comes with being a Malaysian, right? That’s us. We birthed it, we are living by it and it is entirely our choice to change it.

Photo via: tuneR97

Photo via: tuneR97

So I say we stop looking at our country in rose-tinted glasses and pretend to worship it. Contrary to that, how about everyone just accept the fact that we have loads of room for improvement. Acknowledge our mistakes, then aim to not make them again. Our forefathers fought long and hard for our independence. It has been 58 years, as aforementioned. Half a century has crawled by but it still looks like we have a pretty bumpy road ahead, to shed the skins of the past and emerge as a nation that we can only dream of building our future in. That’s a Malaysia I will come to love. At the end of the day, I’m still Malaysian. We’re all Malaysians. So it’s up to us to make Malaysia a nation we can all love and call home.

Still not feeling the Merdeka spirit? How about checking out the short film below to remind yourself (and everyone) of the things that really matters and to help change an issue we hope will dissipate for a better Malaysia. As the saying goes, a little effort goes a long way.