Malaysia Day: A Farce

A new LoyarBurokker tells us why Malaysia Day has been rendered meaningless.

The Malaysia Day celebration is such a farce — it’s really sad seeing just how much effort is being put into this event to mark national unity when most of us barely believe, much less acknowledge, such a concept even exists!

Let’s stop just blaming the politicians for this mess, though there have been many of those ilk who have contributed to this very situation with their careless remarks and responses, made worse by rather dubious actions and decisions from both sides of the divide. If anyone would to really think about it, we really don’t have to look very far to see just how disunited we are as Malaysians — for the problem truly starts with our young. From villages to shopping malls, there’s hardly a kid who’d readily agree to hang out with another — because sharing a toy is a no-no way way before any of these toddlers even find they themselves forced into a kindergarten or some sort of formal education environment.

Blame our genetic make-up for this selfish attitude — it really isn’t natural for anyone to willingly give up what’s already theirs unless there’s something else more attractive up for grabs. And even then, chances are a tight grip remains on the existing treasured possession. With only so many toys available to go round, who can blame kids for not wanting to fraternise with their peers? Throwaway lines in attempt of persuasion like “Go on, be friends” or “You’ll enjoy yourself more” don’t mean anything if you really think about it in this context.

And if it’s already so difficult trying to get kids to share their toys and play together, imagine how much tougher it is then to get adults to see eye-to-eye on anything, much less share one vision of staying united as a nation?

Power of threats

To break this childish impasse of not sharing or interacting, parents would usually end up issuing threats after all persuasion fails — and it doesn’t have to be be something aggressive because the simplest forms like “Let’s go” usually work best. Instantly, the child would become more willing to share toys and the underlying rationale is clear — it’s a better option than being denied any access at all to the new attraction. Again, it’s the simple selfish attitude at work here rather than any sudden readiness to be generous or friendly.

On a bigger scale, the power of a threat has proven to be a very strong incentive for uniting the disunited. Working together in groups meant hunting was more successful for wandering primitives — the fostered unity was just an amalgamation of individual selfish attitudes.

This was the very reason why the central character Ozymandius destroyed New York city the way he did in the iconic ‘Watchmen’ comic book collection. And while George W Bush may not have engineered the 9/11 attacks, it’s no wonder why he continued to be hawkish thereafter by invading Afghanistan and Iraq to cow Americans into keeping him as chief executive — despite being handed the presidency in the first place only due to a technicality!

For Malaysia, the fear of national threats too had been very important factors in fostering unity among our people. Would our forefathers really have been so gungho about independence were it not for the Japanese to show that it’s possible to throw off the yoke of our former colonial rulers? And come 1957, what could the sentiment have really been among the people in Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore about joining Malaya if it were not for the communist attacks, the militaristic ambitions of Indonesia and also the implied threat from the Filipino sultanate?

When such external threats faded away and the momentum of union crescendoed despite several institutionalised demands to keep some statehood autonomy, Malaysia’s formation can now be seen in hindsight as one that could definitely not remain happy for long.

Dissent from within

From a kid’s perspective, sharing works only for a while because their attention span is short and they either get bored quickly or become attracted to something else new. The ‘friend’ gets ignored until the earlier toy becomes attractive again. And if the earlier friend becomes persistent in wanting to continue playing together, chances are fights and tears would result. Once more, this is natural behaviour born of our innate selfish genes — but adults fail to become friends again with those they’ve decided to ignore as quickly as kids. Resentment just builds up with persistent overtures and it’s clear now just why Singapore had to be ejected in 1965.

But, the submerged differences due to colour, race, religion, creed, culture, wealth, waist size, gender and more didn’t go away and simply ballooned as Singapore refused to play ball by continuing to be a threat to Malaysia. Without this distraction, we succumbed to the dangers resulting from the fraying threads of our unity just four years later — in the May 1969 riots.

Unfortunately, this same unfortunate chapter of our history had been turned into a threat that still looms over our head like a Damocle’s sword — or at least our politicians see it that way despite most of us being ready to move on and be probably doomed to repeat the foolishness of 1963, letting current euphoria cloud the underlying differences that remain between all of us.

It’s really no point deluding ourselves that we’ve become more united by the 1997 economic turmoils because the real unifying factor then was resentment against our former longest-serving prime minister — which many of us felt had cheated us out of all kinds of selfish gains. The seeds of this disunity had already been planted way back in 1970 and Malaysians at all levels of society felt cheated because the twin-decade ambitious economic policy had failed to deliver the intended results while also being corrupted along the way. To add further insult to injury, this policy has also for all intents and purposes been extended indefinitely!

In short, like kids tired of hearing too much of the same threats and resenting the persistent nagging, the respect for parents is lost and there’s really no more incentive to remain ‘friends’ with anyone regardless of any persuasion. Because all of us are now in a better position in most aspects — health, wealth, education, largely free access to information and what-nots — we don’t really care about sharing what we have with others because a little effort and swallowing some self-pride by working at unfulfilling jobs lets us get what we want most of the time. We’ve been brow-beaten at school and work to simply focus on doing the barest minimum to make it past the unpunishing hurdles for our rewards that there’s no more any urgency to give thought to matters of group pride — which also happen to be continual divisive factors like colour, race, religion, creed, culture, wealth, waist size, gender and more.

Who gives a damn about such matters any more? How does it help advance the selfish genetic wiring of our very beings? No one is going to care unless and until another major threat affects our pockets and our safety — street protests are mere nuisances, global economic woes didn’t affect us much in 1997 and seem unlikely to do so now, there is hardly any real danger of any catastrophic disasters bar the supervolcanic eruptions of Krakatoa or possibly Toba, and who’s all too stupid to want to bomb or invade our nation?

And that’s why marking Malaysia Day or even Merdeka has become meaningless, apart from it being yet another holiday for us to take a break from the drudgery of routine. Most of us have no pride left to be evoked for ourselves, much less for the nation. And the unity of knowing so many others are in similar slavish minds is hardly cause for celebration.

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A perennial optimist that the better side of human nature will eventually prevail, PreGen-Xer in 1Msia is nevertheless wary of the darker sides of people which tends to be more forceful and dominant. He PreGen-Xer has to write for this most awesome blawg under a pseudonym due to employer restrictions.

Posted on 19 September 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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