Wednesday, August 08, 2007

MERDEKA - What have you done for it lately?

We are in that phase of time - patriotism, perversion, politics, pessimism, posturing, and pretence - as we hurtle to celebrating, if that is the word, Malaysia's 50th year of independence.

Yes, we are an independent nation. But not free.

Not free from the shackles of racialism, rhetoric and revisionism in our history as a nation. What have we done for Merdeka, unlike our forefathers who fought for it - whether in the battlefield or the boardrooms in London.

Case in point. The Merdeka Statement launched last week by non-government organisations on social liberties and equal opportunities under the Malaysian sun. With a number of salient points that have been presented over the years, the statement is milestone or a millstone, depending on your point of view, in Malaysia's history.

But of course, in an era where we demand and defend our shrinking democratic space, there is opposition to the statement, with Muslim groups saying it is tantamount to renegotiating the social contract and validating apostasy.

That there was a rebuttal to the Merdeka Statement launched by a government minister, either from the Muslim groups or by another minister, is entirely well within democratic parameters.

I would have been disappointed if there was none or for the Muslim groups to say it is just a proposal from one group. Duh! Just like their proposals too are just from a group.

Get real! Of course all the proposals are from groups with vested interests in maintaining or expanding their points of view as the idea is to ventilate the viewpoints in the court of public opinion.

At the very least, it shows the positions of the groups that now appear to be arrayed against each other and their view of what Malaysia should be now and in the future.

I would just want Malaysia to be Malaysia - unity in diversity with everyone having a place and space in the country, be it in Peninsular Malaysia or Borneo.

For that, we have to stand and be counted against any forces that want to pigeon hole us as a theocratic state or impose a way of life alien to the nation. We are a secular nation despite state-sanctioned succour or state-sponsored salvation in mosques that dot the country.

Secular. That's it. Plain and simple.

Now, what have you done for it lately?


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