As published in Malay Mail today
By Frankie D'Cruz
By Frankie D'Cruz
BRAND Malaysia is again being portrayed irresponsibly — this time, schoolchildren in Penang have been thrust into political crossfire instead of being taught the values of independence.
Barring students from the Merdeka Day parade in Penang is cheap, silly and unkind to them.
Penang’s slogan ‘Bersih, Cekap, Amanah’, (Clean, Fair, Trustworthy) for this year’s state celebrations as opposed to the national theme #sehatisejiwa (One Heart, One Soul) was pointless.
The nation must stand as one. It is the biggest national event and political differences must be cast aside.
However, both the Education Ministry and the state government seem to be at a loss over how to inspire a national day party. They are clearly clueless over how to motivate children to be proud of the nation and respect the great leaps Malaysia has made since independence.
They have no idea of the poetry of togetherness and spirited nationalism. Did someone forget the parade would be paralysed without students as school bands make up nearly half the performances in the state’s Merdeka Day parade?
The absence of children in the celebrations would be a major blow to a generation that needs to be constantly reminded of the passion, hopes and struggles of the country.
Independence Day is a celebration for everyone from Their Majesties to the man-on-the-street. It should be for all to tell a story with a strong sense of national character.
Our society is increasingly more intolerant and certain people are starring in their own wretched soap opera to blacken Malaysia as oppressive and regressive in racial and religious ties.
Hate speech and incitement that spark reckless and confrontational actions are worrisome. The conveyor belt of attention-grabbing stunts has enlarged and political weakness is disturbing.
So grave is our distress that being glued together as one is hurtling down the tracks as an accident waiting to happen.
Childish pandering aside, the lack of maturity by the decision-makers gets at everything Malaysia doesn’t want its citizens chewing over.
Clearly, it’s a case of a credible sparkle in the nation’s history nudged into absurdity.
Aren’t we proud of our independence? Is just asking people to fly the Jalur Gemilang enough to whip up energy on the streets and raise national happiness and patriotism?
Frankie is editor emeritus of Malay Mail. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @dcruzfrankie