When patriotism is more than just flying the flag

The Malaysian Insider
August 29, 2013

Eventually, it was going to happen. The decades of cutting corners; relegating meritocracy to an afterthought; putting political expediency above everything else; promoting the subservient; dumbing down the education system to allow droves to pass with paper qualification but little else.

Eventually it was going to happen. A pall of mediocrity settling on every corner of Malaysia, affecting the quality of policy-making, thinking, nudging common sense and logic out of the picture and paralysing once hallowed institutions.

So we should not feign surprise that the only contribution that a Cabinet minister like Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek can make to the Merdeka season is to inform Malaysians that the government may pass legislation to make it compulsory to fly the Jalur Gemilang, the national flag.

He is a product of the system. He attended a school system that suffocated thinking, promoted rote-learning, and did little to plant and nurture ideas of integrity, equality, fairness and justice.

He joined a political party which rewarded those with money to burn, embraced those with elastic morality and was nervous about anyone with grey matter. Group think was encouraged and the more one spoke and thought like the masses, the better chance you had of climbing up the political ladder.

You did not have to be the best or even among the best to rise up. At times, where you were born was more important than what you achieved.

So do not blame Shabery Cheek. He is in the Cabinet by virtue of the fact that Tun Abdullah Badawi and after that, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, needed a representative from Terengganu – part of the geographical consideration all prime ministers of Malaysia are bound by.

So do not blame Shabery Cheek if after 56 years of independence, he does not understand that you cannot force-feed patriotism. Worse, he cannot accept that flying the flag is not the only sign of love of country.

Patriotism is not as shallow as planting 100 flags on your car and driving from Perlis to Johor. That is showmanship.

Patriotism is not standing erect and singing the Negaraku, wearing Salvatore Ferragamo shoes and Zegna suit, courtesy of kickbacks and inflated contracts. That is deceitful behaviour.

Patriotism is not standing on the stage on August 31, watching the march past at Dataran Merdeka but on 364 other days of the year doing your darnest to drive a wedge between Malaysians of different races and religion. That is playing to the gallery.

Malaysians showed their love of country by turning out to vote on May 5. They did not need to be dragged out of bed or be lectured on their civic responsibility. They came out in record numbers because of their love for Malaysia, their hope for a better country.

Love of country means fighting injustice, racism, poverty, corruption and doing everything possible to preserve this blessed country for future generations. Patriotism is best fostered when every Malaysian is made to feel that he is valued in the country, has a stake in the country.

It is not ordering cinemas to play Negaraku and then policing the cinema halls to ensure compliance. It is definitely not making it compulsory to fly the national flag. Or take part in a marathon cooking contest.

But expect more “ideas” from the likes of Shabery Cheek. He is a product of the system, a system which has for more than three decades allowed mediocrity to take root in our education system, political system, in every nook and cranny of Malaysia.

He is not alone. Mediocrity is all around us. Another successful project by the Barisan Nasional government for bringing this country down to their level. – August 29, 2013.

  1. #1 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 29 August 2013 - 1:16 pm

    I have the national flags of a dozen different countries in my study room.

    Does Shabery think I am loyal to all 12 countries?

    Amazing, what a chicky smart aleck he turns out to be!

  2. #2 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 29 August 2013 - 1:21 pm

    Ahoy Najib, how can ask Waytha to toe the line but Muhyiddin given exception?

    Najib, you say 1Malaysia, Muhyiddin says 2Malaysia – Malay first, Malaysian 2nd?

    What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander-lah. Boooooooo….Mooooooooo……….

  3. #3 by Di Shi Jiu on Thursday, 29 August 2013 - 5:13 pm

    Mr Lim,

    People like Shabery Cheek are not patriots – they just want other people to think they are patriots.

    Other patriotic Malaysians are expected sacrifice themselves first while pretend-patriots like Shabery Cheek can enjoy the ill-gotten gains from plundering a nation.

    Pretend-patriots like Shabery Cheek reminds me of that old Three Stooges skit where Moe, the leader of the Stooges, declares that he will defend some position or a fort or something to the very drop of his men’s blood.

  4. #4 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 29 August 2013 - 6:22 pm

    Flying the flag and singing the anthem. Is that all it takes to show patriotism?

    Heck! I should have known.

    No wonder it was ultra easy for banglas and filipinos to get mykad and become bumiputras.

    WTF man.

  5. #5 by Godfather on Thursday, 29 August 2013 - 7:44 pm

    Patriotism is about you stretching out your hand for your RM500 BR1M and uttering “terima kasih” while they stash millions and billions overseas.

    Patriotism is about you staying silent while they deliberately sweep matters like Altan-too-ya and Teoh Beng Hock under the carpet.

    Patriotism is about you not making police reports on theft and “small” matters that make the police do so much work and increase the crime statistics.

    Patriotism is about you pushing the wheelchair as hard as you can uphill when the person sitting in the wheelchair doesn’t really need it, but he sits there anyway because he feels entitled.

    Patriotism is when they tell you to jump and you say “how high?”.

    These types of patriotism are not sustainable because it implodes onto itself.

  6. #6 by negarawan on Thursday, 29 August 2013 - 8:27 pm

    UMNO does not understand what real patriotism means. To UMNO, as long as there is something that can help them make easy money, that is “patriotic”. What BS!

  7. #7 by good coolie on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 12:09 am

    As a boy of seven, I remember this man telling all of the others in the house that from tomorrow, we shouldn’t sing “God Save the Queen” any more; we should sing the Negara-ku”. Our flag would be no more the Union Jack; it would be the Malayan flag. I remember his excited and happy state. He had played a role (albeit a very subsidiary role) in bringing down the Union Jack from the top of Penang Hill during the war when bombs were raining down on George Town as well as around the flagpole on top of the hill. The real hero was a Mr. Saravanamuthu who actually pulled down the Union Jack, and raised the white flag of surrender, which action stopped the Japanese’s intensive bombing of Penang.

    The patriots stand out in times of adversity. You see it in their actions, as for example during the Konfrontasi, and during the Communist scourge. You see it in loving and honest service of the Malaysian community by good men, women, and children.

    Wave flags, but do not confuse this for patriotism: it should merely be a sign of the patriotism you really have in you.

    “Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” (in memory of Tunku, Patriot).

  8. #9 by bangkoklane on Friday, 30 August 2013 - 8:18 am

    I am a patriot. I have no worry cos the apartment I live in is flying both the state and federal flags. I will just stay away from the cinemas for now, amd also from T. Putra. Don’t like that word anyway.

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