The joy of independence

BRING out the fireworks! Hoist the flags!

On Saturday, Malaysia marks 56 years of independence from English colonial rule, which is as good a time as any to check and reflect on our progress as a people and a nation. 

So this Merdeka, let us remember that ...

… we Malaysians have a mind of our own, and we have a right to make it. Whether it is ‘questionable’ literature or movies purported to threaten race relations, people should not be denied access to any material. It is only fair for us to find out if something’s bark is worse than its bite. Only then will we be able to present our own fully-formed opinion on the matter.

… it is important to understand first, and only react after. All too often, certain measures taken to address an issue can seem like knee jerk reactions. While you can't determine how others will respond to an issue, you can be a voice of reason and benefit others with a holistic point of view.

… a good connection takes a lot of work. Review your relationship with the nation: how do you treat your fellow countrymen? Is it with mere tolerance, or with true compassion and acceptance? How familiar are you with the history of the land, her laws and her ways? Do you take pride in your surroundings and preserve its beauty?

… even as we sing patriotic classics and enjoy the public holiday, it was a hard-won freedom that our forefathers earned for the nation. Self-governance is a great responsibility: there is no one else to blame for your failings, and only you to credit for your success.

More importantly, we have to hold our elected representatives accountable for their actions, and ensure they are leading the way to a better Malaysia. Similarly, those entrusted with the people's mandate should do everything they can to empower the nation.

… we've come a long way since that fateful day of Aug 31, 1957. There are bumps in every journey, but we'll figure it out along the way. What's important is that we do so together. 

Selamat Hari Merdeka and Happy Independence Day, Malaysia!

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