Of National Day and party ploys

Mustafa K. Anuar
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 02, 2012

AUG 2 — National symbols are — at the risk of sounding stupid here — expected to be “national” in character, meaning and appeal so that they are able to attract, and be appreciated, honoured and even jealously guarded by the citizenry concerned. They may range from the Malayan tiger to the national flower or Bunga Raya (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis).

And like these national symbols, national institutions such as the National Museum are to evoke a certain kind of collective identity among ordinary Malaysians as a people of a particular nation.

The National Museum is supposed to display exhibits that represent the history and cultural heritage of the Malaysian people from diverse ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.

In other words, anything that is supposed to be “national” should have the capacity to enable ordinary Malaysians to relate to and identify with it rather easily — and even with patriotic pride.

Likewise, the national flag, or Jalur Gemilang as it is now known, has the characteristics or elements to represent the nation called Malaysia. Most, if not all, Malaysians are able to identify themselves with this piece of cloth that kindles national consciousness.

The flag, on the other hand, would not be able to stir up that vital sense of belonging to a nation among the citizens if it has, for instance, elements of a dacing, or scale, that is easily associated with the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).

There is indeed a vital distinction to be made here especially as the demarcation line is often conveniently blurred: a government (and a ruling party) is not, and should not be, synonymous to a nation.

This is why the recent attempt by the BN federal government to deploy a logo and a catchphrase of “Janji Ditepati” (Promises Fulfilled) in its preparation for the upcoming Merdeka celebration has caused much disconnect between the federal government and the people in general — in terms of discordance and restlessness amongst many concerned Malaysians as both the logo and the catchphrase are largely seen as associated with the ruling coalition’s electioneering slogan.

By and large, only card-carrying members and supporters of the ruling BN can relate to the controversial logo and the catchphrase. In short, both items do not have what it takes to be a symbol that warrants national fervour.

Indeed, a National Day is a special occasion meant for every citizen, irrespective of ethnic origin, faith, class and political affiliation, who calls Malaysia his or her home. It is a day when Malaysians from all walks of life not only come together to celebrate the country’s independence from colonial Britain, but also cherish inter-ethnic understanding and co-operation and the country’s achievements in terms of socio-economic development.

It is also an occasion for all Malaysians to reflect on the shortcomings of Malaysia as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation.

Moreover, it is also a time for Malaysians to aspire to a better tomorrow. Thus, it is considered simply outrageous for the sitting government to exploit this day of national significance only to pursue single-mindedly its narrow party interests in the larger context of an impending electoral contest. It is a case of a national thing vs a parochial one.

Which is why there’s something jarring in the so-called National Day theme song that was fervently penned by no less than Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yatim to the point that some Malaysians felt that the song was vulgarly propagandistic and insulting their collective intelligence.

For one thing, the “kita” of the “Janji kita ditepati” refrain in the contentious theme song doesn’t refer to the universal “us” made up of ordinary Malaysians, but instead the “us” of the ruling elite and party followers.

In other words, there is an indication of an attempt to hijack the “national” in the interest of the “parochial”, which is incongruent with the general sentiments of patriotic Malaysians.

The alternative theme proposed by Umno-BN’s nemesis, Pakatan Rakyat, for this year’s national day may well strike a chord with many, if not most, Malaysians: “Sebangsa, Senegara, Sejiwa” (One nation, One country, One soul).

This is because it has that vital ingredient of inclusiveness especially at a time when there are pockets of people who have been marginalised from the mainstream of society over the years.

One contention that the BN was merely exercising its democratic right to put its partisan stamp on National Day is indeed hogwash because such a narrow approach is both crudely inappropriate and highly divisive.

Wouldn’t that spell a licence for almost everybody to appropriate National Day to their own disparate ends? Surely, there’s a time and place for democratic practices, and this is certainly not one of them. If anything, one would be mocking democracy silly by playing partisan politics at this juncture.

It would be a National Day of real significance and importance if the politicians concerned consciously cease insulting the collective intelligence of ordinary Malaysians. Indeed, it would be a welcoming relief for ordinary and patriotic Malaysians who have witnessed a surge of verbal and mental diarrhoea coming from among politicians in the recent past.

  1. #1 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Thursday, 2 August 2012 - 5:47 pm

    To umnoputras malaysia is umno and umno is malaysia.

    Habis cerita!

  2. #2 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Thursday, 2 August 2012 - 5:54 pm

    And one more thing. Well a digression really. The rules of court (lower courts and the high court) have been combined into one big rule. That is no problem. Well there are lots of problem but not the problem I want to mention. The issue is the filling fees to start court proceedings. The fees payable under the new rules are easily 3, 4, 5 times that in the original rules. This is a massive jump. Our income are expected to double (if it ever happens) only in 8 yrs time. And right now the filling fees to start court proceedings are already being raised by larger margins than two times. What are they thinking?

    Jib jib 1boleh.
    Ros ros 1cantik!

    This end bit is too cumbersome. I shall reduce it to acronym as follows:

    JJ1B RR1C.

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 2 August 2012 - 6:21 pm

    PR has come out with its National Day slogan: “Sebangsa, Senegara, Sejiwa” (One nation, One country, One soul).

    Some may claim it is also a copycat of another patriotic song of the 60s and 70s which is played on and off these days. Note some similarities. It is called:

    Malaysia Bejaya ! (Success Malaysia !!)


    Malaysia kita sudah berjaya,
    Aman makmur bahagia
    Malaysia abadi selamanya,
    Berjaya dan berjaya!

    Berbagai kaum sudah berikrar
    Menjunjung cita-cita
    Satu bangsa satu bahasa
    Malaysia berjaya!

    Dari Perlis sampailah ke Sabah
    Kita sudah merdeka
    Negara makmur rakyat mewah
    Kita sudah berjaya!

    Dengar semboyan kita berjaya
    Gemuruh di angkasa
    Satu bangsa satu negara
    Malaysia berjaya!

    English translations

    Our Malaysia has succeed(ed)
    Peaceful and radiant
    Malaysia forever shall you live
    and achieve more success!

    The people have pledged
    to strive for the aspiration
    Of one people, one language
    Successful Malaysia!

    From Perlis to Sabah
    We are now free
    A prosperous nation, with affluent people
    We have succeed(ed)!

    With the bugle we sound(ed) our success
    Shooting for the stars
    One people, one nation
    Successful Malaysia!

  4. #4 by sotong on Thursday, 2 August 2012 - 6:43 pm

    We are too divided from decades of damaging politics of race and religion for the national day to be meaningful to ALL…..may be after a change of government for at least 2 terms.

  5. #5 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Thursday, 2 August 2012 - 8:30 pm

    Aiyah olympic not held in malaysia. Otherwise the theme for the games can be janji ditepati. I mean, why not?

  6. #6 by hiro on Thursday, 2 August 2012 - 11:35 pm

    I believe there comes a time when Malaysians need to define for themselves what it means to have national unity.

    For me, this unity exists on political neutral ground, and should be as powerful as our Written Constitution.

    This unity has nothing to do with Malays, Chinese or Indians uniting under a particular party or coalition. This unity has nothing to do with whether Muslims, Buddhists or Christians unite under a particular party or coalition.

    This unity is one which transcends all of the above. It calls to our best side – one that is open, respectful, fair and just. It inspires us to bond as brothers and sisters, not make us fearful of “them” or “those others”.

    It reminds us that Malaysia is at its best when we value, and not fear, our diversity.

    In a functional democracy, political battlers are fought out on level playing field, and once victors are decided, people come together again.

    But for BN, it’s a zero sum game, played on the back of a forked tongue about unity. For every 1Malaysia, there is Perkasa huffing and puffing the blow the house down. For every peace-loving protestor, there’s FRU, Perkema, Rela, backside fellows and burger sellers. For every ethical alternative journalistic outlet, there’s Utusan, the Star, NST, TV1, TV2, TV3, NTV7, TV8, TV9, and Bernama. For every decent school that inculcates genuine national unity, there’s Biro Tata Negara. On national unity, BN fails on all counts. For every sports that achieve international success, there’s PM’s wife to rub her face in. For every commercial success story, there are horrid exposes of crony concessions and procurement overpayment. For every true case of administration of justice, there is selective prosecution and investigation.

    To me, BN fails on all scores when dealing with national unity in true sense of the word. It’s nothing short of embarrassing, and I don’t want to feel this way anymore a year from now. Instead, I want to look forward to the day when the only news about Malaysia is how happy we are with our neighbours, how everyone is able to collaborate with everyone else, how we are able to tap into the best minds to lead our institutions, how our innovation, sports and culture are flourishing.

    Help Pakatan make this happen.

  7. #7 by negarawan on Thursday, 2 August 2012 - 11:37 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=Ts_87zEZFqk&NR=1 Look at the SOB Rais Yatim and how rude and arrogant he is! Look at how childish and unbecoming his behaviour is. I have no respect for this coward! If I was there, I would have put my shoes to good use. Minister of Culture, my foot!

  8. #8 by monsterball on Friday, 3 August 2012 - 4:19 am

    The advertising and promotional work to get voters to vote for BN is unbelievable low class.
    They use an idea how to sell a product and apply it how to sell BN.
    Voters are no fools to keep on buying from a seller who who is totally insincere…..no service after sales…no good products at all.
    It is all sweet talking 4th grade salesman talks.
    That’s what Najib is doing vigorously for the past few months…to fool as many voters as he can.
    The only Malaysians he can fool are the innocent school children and non voters.

  9. #9 by k1980 on Friday, 3 August 2012 - 8:45 am


    OMJ (oh my Jibby)! The best democracy in the world is now champion in economic administration! The best economically administrated country in the world!

  10. #10 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Friday, 3 August 2012 - 8:47 am

    Thanks for the video link negarawan (#7).

    Watch it ppl.

    See how stupidly that idiot behaved.

  11. #11 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Friday, 3 August 2012 - 9:27 am

    Ground movements in sabah (and sarawak too, perhaps?). Ppl laughed at anwar for the seemingly botched 916 effort. The effort was apparently genuine for otherwise sleepyhead would not hv approved, at the last minute, the “belajar sambil melawat” trip to taiwan that involved a very large number of backbencher MPs. That trip too appeared to have thwarted the desired effects of anwar’s 916 plan.

    Or had it? This must be worrying umno, I am sure. Given the events now unfolding in sabah, the “belajar sambil melawat” counter measure then is begining to look more like a mere postponement of anwar’s 916 plan. Could it be that for umno (or anyone else for that matter) the inevitable just cannot be averted? If so, the postponement had in fact given the opposition a valuable opportunity to evaluate the worth of leaping frogs and more importantly, the proper way to handle them in a manner most beneficial to the opposition’s cause.

    Could anwar be reaping the fruits of his original 916 labour now?

    Let us see. And I am positive.


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