52 years of independence

August 31, 2009

I found an article I wrote 2 years ago for The Star newspaper, in conjunction with Malaysia’s Independence day.

I thought it would be fitting to share it with you today.

Malaysia is not the Capital of Singapore!

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. To all Malaysians, welcome home.” Each time I hear that, my heart flutters. In half an hour or so, I’ll get to step into my Malaysian comfort zone.

Malaysia = home. The feeling heightens when you’re abroad, it’s 3 am and you just want that roti canai. I’m sure everybody agrees that one of the best things about Malaysia is inevitably The Food. From mamak stalls to 5-star fine dining, there is so much we can offer. There is no better feeling than biting into the crunchy and sinful cucur udang, or sipping the frothy and sweet teh tarik, or dipping your keropok lekor into the chilli sauce. Ah, sweet Malaysia.

Another thing I love is the weather. Having spent years abroad, I’ve begun to kiss the ground I was born on. Abroad, I have to travel to my university in the sardine-packed tubes, with heavy books, a heavy laptop, having a scarf wrapped around my neck on top of my thick turtleneck, a big fat overcoat, knee-high boots covered in mud, and a wet umbrella. That’s only the good days. Some days, I have to add earmuffs and gloves that make pushing your hair back from the wind an impossible task.

Over here in Malaysia, I don’t have to worry about looking like a puffed-up marshmallow. Here, I can just wear a T-shirt and jeans, and even open-toed shoes; a taboo word for the British during winter. Yes, the Sun shines too much here in Malaysia, but that’s why they created air conditioners, and those huge grasshopper-like sunglasses. And when it rains heavily, we Malaysians needn’t worry; our developers were clever enough to build indoor malls!

It’s cliche to say I miss Malaysia when I’m abroad, but there’s no other way to put it. I love Malaysia for what it is; past, present and future. It amazes me when my non-Malaysian friends think that Malaysia is the capital of Singapore, or they think we don’t have TVs or Internet. I just smile and say, “Come visit and I promise you’ll be shocked.”


As a young Malaysian, I never witnessed Tunku declaring our independence, or I may never be able to imagine how bad times were back then. But I know it’s not about shouting “Merdeka!” meaninglessly or by attracting attention by painting the flag on your car. Instead, we should continue our ancestor’s hopes and dreams in a more intelligent way; by carrying on Malaysia’s good name and doing what we can to further develop our people’s economy, welfare and mentality.

Boy, how naive was I two years ago?!


I guess nothing much has changed. I still feel the same way about Malaysia, my home. I’m proud to be Malaysian. We have good people, good food, good values, rich culture and relatively stable politics.

But it’s such a pity that in this glorious month, so many news are being published about arguments, disrespect, disproportionate constraint, and generally a big misunderstanding of race and religion. Undermining the cow as a religious figure, banning Muslims from going to concerts; what has become of us? Why are we moving backwards in our mentalities?

The sad thing is that certain groups of people tarnish the good values Malaysia has. Whatever harmony we try to maintain between the different races and religions are spoiled by a number of people. This small number of people can really do permanent damage to the country, so we should try to educate ourselves and others about peace, understanding and tolerance.

Without those values, a multicultural nation can never exist.

Without those values, Malaysia is nothing.