Malaysians reject insincere patriotism

Mariam Mokhtar

We are all proud to be Malaysian and we do not need anyone telling us what patriotism means or how we should show our national pride. Like faith and love, patriotism cannot be regulated, but few politicians will understand this.

On Aug 21, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek ordered cinemas throughout Malaysia to play the national anthem “Negaraku” and screen two patriotic clips before starting the film. He warned cinemagoers that those who showed disrespect, faced arrest.

A few days later, Shabery announced the possibility of a new law, compelling businesses to fly the Jalur Gemilang, throughout the month of Merdeka. He claimed that companies lacked patriotism because very few premises flew the flag.

National pride cannot be defined by the number of Jalur Gemilangs that are flown from our buildings; only shallow people would equate outward symbols with patriotism.

In 2010, the Mayor of Ipoh threatened to fine businesses and withdraw their trading licences if they did not fly the flag. His humiliating climb-down came about when the public reacted with outrage.

At one point, the nation was in the grip of a competition to fly the most flags. A photo of a teacher perching precariously on the third floor balcony of a school, hoisting a banner containing several hundred mini-flags, attracted contempt. People complained that the headmaster had set a poor example for his students. Others wondered which politicians had the monopoly on the flag-making business.

Photos of proud car and taxi drivers posing with vehicles bedecked with flags also invited ridicule. People deplored the failure of the police to apprehend these drivers, whose vehicles were a road safety hazard and a distraction.

In 2010, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who was then the Defence Minister, stumbled into a political minefield when he attributed the low numbers of non-Bumiputeras in the armed forces to their “low spirit of patriotism”. His remarks sparked outrage, but he failed to apologise to the nation for his insensitivity.

Lest we forget, Malaysia was built on the blood, sweat and toil of all the races. Today’s youth may not have learnt about the struggles of the many groups of people – ranging from the nationalists to the communists, individuals to expatriates – who brought independence to Malaya in 1957. They may not know why Singapore left Malaysia, or that Sabah and Sarawak were late entrants. What matters most is that the contribution of every Malaysian, then and now, is important.

How could one define what makes us truly Malaysian and what gives us a national identity? Is it the Jalur Gemilang, the pot-pourri of cultures, the diversity of food, or the way we intersperse English, Malay and Chinese words in our everyday conversation?

One nasty Malaysian trait is to show recognition only for sports personalities who are ‘Datuks’. Is that why we failed to support gems like our diver Pandelela Rinong? When she competed at the London Olympics, few senior politicians or their wives were at the poolside (unlike their unmistakable presence at Datuk Lee Chong Wei’s badminton event). As soon as Pandelela won an Olympic bronze medal, the stampede of politicians to be the first to congratulate her could have earned a gold medal in the 400 metres relay.

Is being a Malaysian our willingness to socialise, at any hour of the day, at a mamak stall? Food means everything to us, and yet punctuality means nothing. We show great enthusiasm for eating, but are blind to the filth around us.

Perhaps, the way we drive shows our Malaysian-ness. If we are stopped for a traffic violation, we wriggle out of the situation with a small “token of gratitude”, folded neatly underneath our driving licence. Why do we drop our bad driving habits when we drive in a foreign country, where violating the law is not tolerated?

Why do overseas Malaysians claim to be more patriotic than their Malaysian counterparts? Are Malaysians abroad just homesick, or is it because they cannot easily be stoked by the racial and religious sentiments of our politicians at home?

From all the responses this writer received, the common theme of being a Malaysian boiled down to tolerance, decency and a sense of humour.

A proud Malaysian respects others, whatever their race, religion, gender or age. They treat people with dignity. Proud Malaysians have self-respect and are not afraid of hard work. They have shared values, communal responsibilities and a sense of belonging.

The rakyat is not conned by forced patriotism and political jingoism. People learn by example, and deeds which show justice, honesty and fair play help to galvanise and unite the nation.

Mariam Mokhtar is "a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth."

Comments

A true patriotic Malaysian is also one who pays taxes and repay his/her PTPTN and other government loans. If the act of flying the national flag is politicized as it is now, the lack of support (on flying the flag) is a good indication of the silent protest being displayed.

I always fly the flag ... in my mind's eye. When the Negaraku is played to honour our athletes at international sporting events, I feel a lump in my throat and my eyes go misty. Am I patriotic or am I just a sentimental old fool? But when I see flag-waving schoolchildren line the streets to welcome a visiting dignitary under the blazing sun, my blood boils. Am I not patriotic then?

We have lost tolerance, decency and a sense of humour as a result of the narrow-minded policies of the government of the day. The Umno-led government is deliberately promoting an agenda which is detrimental to a large section of Malaysians. How can we fight for the country when our own government is not fighting for our welfare?

i wonder why at the Olympics such a big deal is made out of flying the champion's country flag and playing the national anthem?

As I watched the Merdeka Parade on RTM1 this morning, I could see only one race among the tens of thousands of participants from civil bodies marching past the King and cabinet members. Surely, they do not represent the entire Malaysian race. Even the horses of DBKL's mounted unit were of one shade. But my faith was partly-restored when the equestrian ceremonial unit of the military had white and black mounts. But I am still stumped at the need for cabinet ministers to don a uniform (which looked more like a bus conductor's garb) for the 2hr event. And I didn't like the brooding, mournful song played and replayed throughout the event.

Again Miriam Mokhtar demonstrates the shallowness of her arguments against government with an analogy to bite her in her proverbials.

Love is more often than not regulated. More than half the world acknowledge the fact. It is also the reason why more than half the world enter into arranged marriages (resisted initially by some) out of which develops the sentiment of long term love and respect.

The vast majority of people who enter and who have entered into arrange marriages raise better and more productive offspring and societies lie the two giants of Asia who constitute between them half the worlds population. And these progeny of real love dominate the economic, political and academic landscape of the west today.

Love as Miriam here refers to is perhaps that which she has become accustomed to which originated in medieval Europe. Its called lust. Out of it comes the number of dysfunctional families broker homes and homelessness we are witness to in the west and we call it love? it destroys societies it destroys nations.

Nationalism, national pride, good citizenship and good neighborliness are all cultivated and not something people are born with.

It is a fairy tale to assume we could do without government intervention in our lives. Big business loves that line. Less government more self regulation.

The result is the GFC and other self regulation driven policies which favour a small strata of society and leave the masses at their mercy.

Last week we were witness to what will happen if the Miriam Mokhtars and their friends get government. George Soros married his mate half his age (no sin there). Invited guests to that wedding consisted of two well known dogs on his chain. The new President of Liberia a Hillary Clinton George Soros appointee.

The other was the president of Lithuania. A man who allowed George Soros and his hedge funds to use his country its banks and other institutions like a Trojan Horse to invade the central banks of eastern and western Europe creating economic chaos to hundreds of millions, bankrupting businesses and filling his pockets with untold wealth in the process.

Thats the policy that Miriam Mokhtar and Ambiga Sreenivasan favour for Malaysia in place of responsible government and a government that favours the wider masses. There is money in organized chaos as George Soros and John Paul Getty discovered.

Getty said "The time to buy is when there is blood on the streets". Its the Bersih and Arab Spring philosophy. But the beneficiaries are always the Soros's of this world.

But then again the wold is made up of so many different minds that there must also be a palce for the Miriam Mokhtars of this world to live in. But not at the expense of the majority.

Singapore is a city state of government campaigns from keeping the place clean to the most taken for granted things like "smiling, and being polite". And it worked for them.

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