Archive for April 20th, 2008

Reflections on a sinking Bahtera Merdeka

Dr. Azly Rahman

Bonda senyum riang (Mother smiled with joy)
Menerima bahtera merdeka… (In receiving the ship of Independence)

– words from an old song of the 70s

With apologies to the late American social critic Gore Vidal, my piece this week was conceived over the weekend at a speech at Harvard University, during which I spoke about the “ambiguities of freedom” in post-March 8 revolution in Malaysia.

The bahtera/jong/ship that was supposed to bring this country and its people to this mythical magical and elusive place called ‘Vision 2020’ is going down fast and will perhaps sink by May 13, 2008 – 50 years after it was built with confidence and with a new hope for a multi-cultural Malaysia that promised justice for all.

The Titanic of Malaysia’s independence is giving way. The Ides of March and April Showers that transformed into a tsunami and that will bring May Flowers of Power of the Sixties sensibility – all these will bring down the United Malays that is neither. The Malays were neither pure Malays nor united. Nor was Umno even a national organisation. Neither national nor organised, especially at the brink of its sinking.

And Johoreans – the creators of UMNO – must now be the ones crying out loud on board the UMNO sinking ship. Little did they know that they accidentally built in the seeds of contradiction and the antithesis of patriotism into foundations of the Bahtera Merdeka. Read the rest of this entry »