While wishing Malaysia “Happy Birthday” …

by Art Harun
Special to The Malaysian Insider
September 15, 2013

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr, among others, led a civil rights march on Washington for “jobs and freedom”. There, he delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech, saying he was there to “cash a cheque” for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

He spoke of an America where his children “will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”.

He concluded: “And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last’.”

Nineteen days later, our father of independence, Tunku Abdul Rahman, stood before a nation and said: “Now finally, the peoples of Malaysia are celebrating the establishment of Malaysia. This is the time to think earnestly and hopefully on the future of Malaysia as the whole country resounds with joy.

“So I pray that God may bless the nation of Malaysia with eternal peace and happiness for our people.

“The Federation of Malaya now passes into history. Let us always remember that the Malayan Nation was formed after many difficulties during a long period of national Emergency, yet its multi-racial society emerged, endured and survived as a successful and progressive nation, a true democracy and an example to the world of harmony and tolerance.

“As it was with Malaya, so it can be with Malaysia. With trust in Almighty God, unity of purpose and faith in ourselves, we can make Malaysia a land of prosperity and peace.

“In doing so, let every Malaysian in all the States of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah ensure that our Malaysia is truly worthy of the aims and hopes we have shared, the trials and stress, we have endured, in working together to achieve our common destiny.


Both of them are great men. Both shared a dream. While King dreamed of a day “when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands”, the Tunku recognised that Malaysia’s “multi-racial society emerged, endured and survived as a successful and progressive nation” and he wished for a Malaysia that “is truly worthy of the aims and hopes we have shared”.

Fifty years on and now America has a black President. Unfortunately, Malaysia is still grappling with the “ownership” of the word “Allah”; which race should get more or less; which institute of higher learning should be restricted to which race; who should be empowered to determine the religion of a child and the likes.

We should not, however, forget that Malaysia is only 50 years old while America is 237 years old. In terms of nation-states, Malaysia is but a small kid in pre-school.

The greatness of any country is not measured by the absence of crisis but, in my opinion, by how the country rises itself from a crisis to become better, stronger and wiser.

May 13, 1969, for example, left a huge black blot on Malaysia’s white historical canvas. But the real question is whether we have learned anything from that sad and very unfortunate episode and whether we have emerged a better nation since then. There is of course the Tanda Putera film which suggests that to some people May 13, 1969 is all about finger pointing and blame games. However, the strong public opinion against that film and the general reaction of distaste at the film is suggestive of a citizenry which is matured, idealistic and adverse to racial polarisation. That is heart-warming.

Oh yes, we have had our moments of shame. The Memali incident. The rape of the judiciary. The famous black-eye incident. The Al-Ma’unah botched uprising. The sodomy trial. The Operasi Lalang. The cow head shame. The Allah issue. The body snatching incidences. And so on.

But each of them was met with incredulity by the society at large. And each time it happened, there are brave voices of dissent fighting to be heard and were in fact heard. Never mind that the powers that be had sometimes brushed aside these voices. That’s politics. The bulk of the mature and level-headed citizenry dabbles in politics but are not consumed and drowned by politics. That to me is a good sign. It is a good sign for a young child in pre-school to notice all these; to analyse and to learn from them.

At the end of the day what marks a great country are not the monuments, the highways, the racing tracks or the administrative centres. It is the soul of the country. It is the soul and spirit of its people. It is US, the children of the country.

We determine everything. Regardless of what is thrown at us, we hold the option. Do we want a Malaysia which is “is truly worthy of the aims and hopes we have shared” or a Malaysia with endless hatred, bigotry, bickering and fractiousness?

Do we, as a people want the next 50 years to define us?

Or do we, as a people, wish to define the next 50 years? – September 15, 2013.

* Azhar “Art” Harun is a Malaysian.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 8:54 am

    ///Or do we, as a people, wish to define the next 50 years?///

    “We are still masters of our fate. We are still captains of our souls.” ― Winston Churchill.

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 8:57 am

    MLK should b here 2 listen 2 racist mooHEEdim – “For me, today is a very lucky day and indeed the most-awaited event. We are not apologetic or worried if the non-bumiputeras or even the international communities see this as something concerning only a certain group.”
    Basically he said Fark Off, I’m proud 2 b a Malay n I only care abt Malays; U no happy, FO
    At least, he is consistent – I Malay first, M’sian second or no care – how lucky 4 d minority who elected him

  3. #3 by worldpress on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 9:15 am

    Go home BN, people in the URBAN are NOT WELCOME you

  4. #4 by Loh on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 9:32 am

    Fifty years after independence, the form of democracy in terms of government determined through election has taken shape, but the process of buying election using government funds has been established too, and the law can do nothing.

    Najib spent months buying votes from the poor through its BR1M for GE 13, and now he has openly said that the new Bumiputras projects are a reward for Malays voting him back to power. Clearly that is payment in advance for them to vote in future, the earlier one being the upcoming UMNO party election. No other UMNO candidates can claim that they have done more for UMNO members than Najib. But the country does not belong to UMNO, and funds used for the Bumiputra projects are not owned by UMNO. It shows that Najib is willing to demonstrate that he robs the country coffers to fund Bumiputras benefit. But what can you do?

    I wonder why DAP does not take Najib to court for corruption.

  5. #5 by Loh on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 9:35 am

    ///We are not worried if non-bumiputeras see new economic measures for bumiputeras as concerning only a certain group, says Muhyiddin Yassin.///–Malaysiakini

    This brute is the DPM of Malaysia. God save the country.

  6. #6 by boh-liao on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 9:35 am

    WHAT happy birthday lah?
    On d eve of 16.9, Malaysia day, we hv two UmnoB top DOGs barking abt MALAY/Bumiputera day – we Malays/Bumi r going 2 reward ourselves with more guaranteed $$
    We r so lucky 2 b born Malay/Bumi n we deserved 2 suck, parasite as much as possible $$
    Yes, we shamelessly announce dis, Yes, w r worse than Nazi, so what, we no care what U think, OK, FO

    Of cos, MCA, Gerakan, MIC etc will docilely accept their master’s greed

    Advice 2 Bumi/nonBumi: C any future here? Still want 2 keep RM here? UmnoB kaki oredei moved RM out n exchanged 4 SGD, USD, or AUD

    Happy whatever day – if U still hv any reason 2 feel happy, sheeeet

  7. #7 by digard on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 4:40 pm

    The torn Malay soul is clearly visible. Living in a “developed” European country, I can wholeheartedly state that on this continent a clearly spelled out “reward” for a certain population segment would be taken with the same disgust with which a handout of cash before elections would be seen. Probably, both would cost victory to the party acting like that, including by the members and voters of that party, and including the recipients of the “dough”.
    The Malays, at least their larger part, had their original, genuine soul torn out, and replaced by some type of artificial nutrition infused by the government. Over the generations, this has led to a deep sense of frustration, seeing others prospering while oneself depended largely on handouts of all sorts in order to keep up with the Joneses.

  8. #8 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 9:38 pm

    Nik Nazmi (Seri Setia) : Why are malays still so behind after 50 years of UMNO rule.

    Want to know why?
    1) UMNO takes the lion’s share; Malays fight for the ikan bilis. See who drives Porsches, BMW, Mercedes…etc… not ordinary Malays but UMNO Malays.

    2) UMNO leaders say one thing but does the opposite. Najib is now 1Malay, 2Malaysian like his deputy. But 1Malay means UMNO Malays. Malaysian Malays, Sabah/Sarawak Malays kept out of the loop.

    3) How many billions did they say was taken out of the country for corruption? Say that again.

  9. #9 by tak tahan on Sunday, 15 September 2013 - 11:54 pm

    1) Me think majority will still agree with the status quo all these while as long as the ikan bilis,nasi lemak,tongkat ali and whatnot NEP-menus are available on free-for-all to grab and enjoy lifetime.
    2) Foregone conclusion,period.Don’t ever doubt it.
    3) FartFartFart billions from 2000 to 2008 to output corruption and pollution(read:environment) to be beared and shared by all Malaysian,Malays included.I will say that again to the WALL !!

  10. #10 by Loh on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 10:18 am

    Najib said that he wanted Malays to be dependent on UMNO, the government. So he is exactly opposite to the call by Kennedy made to Americans, to think what they could do for the country, and here Najib wants Malays to think what the country can do for them, and worse, the non-Malays to bear the burden.

  11. #11 by sheriff singh on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 12:02 pm

    Happy 50th Merdeka, Singapore. Yes, you got your independence from the British too, today.

    Happy 90th Birthday too, Lee Kuan Yew.

    See ? Today is certainly a day for celebrations.

  12. #12 by sheriff singh on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 12:52 pm

    And Chin Peng dies today 16th September, aged 90.

  13. #13 by best4rakyat on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 2:15 pm

    Why can’t like China ….just forget Chen Peng with a diplomatic handshakes with Malaysia?

    No hero or any except what had been shown in “Tanda Putera” a ‘movie’ you must see!

    So 56th or 50th?Anyone?

  14. #14 by Loh on Monday, 16 September 2013 - 3:16 pm

    September 16 is not happy birthday for Sabah, it is the day of mourning. For Sarawak, even though Taib white hair owns the state, he at least stops outsiders from entering.

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