The Merdeka this year left a sour taste to many Malaysian. Events have led the public to seriously ponder over the subject of patriotism.
In fact, the Minister of Education cum Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that a new history syllabus have been developed and will soon be introduced that would boost patriotism. [Read The Star here]
In The Star yesterday Professor Shad Faruqi wrote an article entitled Nurturing Patriotism which is legalistic with a tinge of liberal agenda in-fused. [Read The Star here]
Merdeka month is an opportune time to ponder over patriotism.
Patiotism ain't dead yet
The poor conduct of opposition or more accurately, their operatives on Merdeka eve at Dataran Merdeka should be deemed as unpatriotic to the majority of Malaysian.
The mooning and stepping on pictures of leaders was a ‘kurang ajar’ act. Political differences should not lead one to ill behaved and resort to such hatred politics.
On that auspices night that is supposed to display patriotism and love for the nation, a group, believed to be SAMM and at the initiave of PKR's AMK comittee member, Najwan Hilmi unveiled and demand to change the constitutionally accepted flag for flags similar to other countries or that of organization with history of betrayal to the young nation of Malaya then.
More on that history in a later posting.
On the Merdeka day, they disgraced the Sultan of Selangor as the Head of State by not inviting his highness to the state official celebration in favour of an ex-prison inmate, criminal and aspiring first Malaysian Republic President of liwat, Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The usual launching of Merdeka month was dampened by the Minister of Information, Multimedia and Telecommunication amaterish attempt to put up his own decided solan, logo and theme song.
Merdeka preparation by the Dato Rais Yatim-personally managed Ministry was poor and unexciting. Out of his own personal ego, he refused to launch a new logo, resulting in a celebration that saw a disunited nation. The BN side with it's logo-less although it seemed to be many, and confused slogan. While the Pakatan side had a beautiful slogan and logo but it's logo was poorly conceptualised.
There was also the strange reorganising of Merdeka schedule into two events; morning and night, and without the traditional midnight countdown.
Luckily we had the opportunity on Monday to visit the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Kuantan that enabled us to witness the capability, dilligence and discipline of our men and women involved in defending the nation.
Thank god patriotism ain't dead yet. Many such true selfless patriots are still alive and kicking.
The Sunday before we were invited to a closed door Hari Raya gathering of an NGO and it gave us the opportunity to rub shoulders with many national luminaries who were compatriots in the field of scholarship, activism, politics, and civil servants.
We've made many remarks on patriotism but how one define patriotism in order to label some as patriotic and others as unpatriotic?
Badminton singles player, Dato Lee Chong Wei is a patriot who through his selflessness and dedication brings glory to the country. It is easy to spot those that devote themselves or even sacrifice their life for the country.
To those right winger type, questioning or raising anything negative against any national leader even if it is corrupts like Tan Sri Nor Mohamad Yakcop, waywards like Dato Khaled Nordin and his Deputy Dato Saifuddin Abdullah, sore thumbs like Dato Nurjazlan Tan Sri Mohamad, devious and control freak like Dato Rais Yatim, etc is considered as unpatriotic.
While to those aspiring for a clean Government, raising and exposing wrongdoings in Government, corruptions, power abuse, cronyism, etc is a patriotic duty of every Malaysians.
It reminded us of a scene from the movie American President in which the liberal lobbyist girlfriend of the widowered President became his reelection campaign issue when she was found burning an American flag in his activist days as students.
There was this line he made about patriotism or loyalty to the nation is more than a burning flag that left an indellible mark in our memory.
Patriotism has often been described as devotion to one's country. However in ordinary use, patriotism could also mean:
1. Special affection for one's own countryHowever, any discussion on patriotism will be interchangeably assumed as nationalism but patriotism and nationalism is marred by a lack of clarity in its meanings.
2. A sense of personal identification with the country
3. Special concern for the well-being of the country
4. Willingness to sacrifice to promote the country's good
Social thinkers and philosophers had only recently delve into a serious effort to define patriotism. [Read this link of Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy here]
The subject of patriotism; the what, why, when, where and how is something that cannot be simplified into a simple formula. From the perspective of Malaysia, we had the benefit of having Rukunegara as a guiding principle or popular described as national principle or ideology.
Rukunegara was basically instituted in 1970 in reaction to a serious racial clash of May 13 1969. It was the way to foster unity. It was agreed in principle by all parties, representative and groups, political and apolitical.
It provided us an answer to what do we as a nation want to be, where we are heading, why we are what we are, and later on, Vision 2020 came into the picture to address the questions on the targeted when and how.
Rukunegara is a guide to the values to be adhered to in our pursuit to nation building and certainly provide the bulk of answers to the question of Malaysian patriotism. Those not in sync with the agreed rukunegara have tendency and could be deemed as unpatriotic.
Read rukunegara below with its preamble:
Our nation, Malaysia, is being dedicated to achieving a greater unity of all her people; maintaining a democratic way of life; creating a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably shared; ensuring a liberal approach to her rich and diverse cultural tradition; and building a progressive society which shall be oriented to modern science and technology.
We, the people of Malaysia, pledge our united efforts to attain these ends, guided by these principles:It should be encompossing to all interest.
• BELIEF IN GOD
• LOYALTY TO KING AND COUNTRY
• UPHOLDING THE CONSTITUTION
• RULE OF THE LAW, and
• GOOD BEHAVIOUR AND MORALITY
Vision 2020's Specifc Nation Building
Then came Vision 2020 as outline by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1991 during the tabling of Sixth Malaysian Plan.
The vision calls for the nation to achieve a self-sufficient industrialized nation by the year 2020, encompasses all aspects of life, from economic prosperity, social well-being, educational world class, political stability, as well as psychological balance.
In order to achieve Vision 2020, the nation required an annual growth of 7% (in real terms) over the thirty-year periods (1990–2020), so that the economy would be eightfold stronger than its 1990 GDP of RM115 billion.
Dr Mahathir outlined nine strategic challenges that Malaysia must overcome to achieve Vision 2020 as:
• Challenge 1: Establishing a united Malaysian nation made up of one Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian Race).Vision 2020 was certainly an ambitious construction of nation building and more specifics in patriotic pursuit.
• Challenge 2: Creating a psychologically liberated, secure and developed Malaysian society.
• Challenge 3: Fostering and developing a mature democratic society.
• Challenge 4: Establishing a fully moral and ethical society.
• Challenge 5: Establishing a matured liberal and tolerant society.
• Challenge 6: Establishing a scientific and progressive society.
• Challenge 7: Establishing a fully caring society.
• Challenge 8: Ensuring an economically just society, in which there is a fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the nation.
• Challenge 9: Establishing a prosperous society with an economy that is fully competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.
The new openness and liberal attitude of Government over the strong and resolved Government of the past had invited more discussion, activism and re-looking of many basic issues. For that, we take a passage from Prof Shad Faruqi:
In our deeply divided society, our Constitution-makers had to come to terms with the narrow, chauvinistic, pre-political, pre-Merdeka loyalties to race, religion, region, language and culture.
At the same time, there was a need to forge a new ethos of unity and solidarity by enjoining love of and loyalty to a post-constitutional political community with its own laws and institutions and rights and liberties.However, the new ethos of unity and solidarity that is trying to be introduced on the majority of the nation must not deviate from spirituality, loyalty, heritage, law and order, and courtesy and morality attributes of rukunegara.
The forefathers of our basic law walked the middle path of tolerance and accommodation. The resulting Constitution, with all its imperfections, is a significant attempt to balance the rights, privileges and legitimate expectations of every community. .
Dr Dzulkifli Abdul Razak in his observation in a New Straits Times article entitled Wither Rukunegara see rukunegara and the successful Indonesian pancasila share the same motto of unity in diversity and the same patriotic desire for the nation.
Thus in our opinion, to deviate or sabotage the nation from adhering to the values and aspiration by contravening those important five points of rukunegara, preamble of the rukunegara and failure of meeting up to the challenges of Vision 2020 are sufficient to be considered as unpatriotic.
Patriotism ala Malaysia is about pursuing progress in those various fields and areas while at the same time adhering to those enshrined values. It's clear who is patriotic and unpatriotic, right?