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Are You Honouring Our Independence?

On Aug. 31, 1957, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj made Malaysian history by announcing our independence at Merdeka Stadium. Every Malaysian knows that Merdeka Day is celebrated on August 31, and it has always been a time to celebrate. The celebration usually starts in early August with a variety of national events, as August is also known as the National Month. Since we were in primary school, we have been taught to respect and honour our country’s independence. We sang the national anthem, Negaraku, every week during assembly, while standing still, and celebrated Merdeka with drawing or colouring contests and more. Right now, are you doing enough to honour Malaysia’s independence and the sacrifice it took, even after you have finished school? If you are not sure how to do so, here are a few ways you can.

First, as a Malaysian, Sejarah (history) is a must-learn as it shows you the evolution and development of Malaysia. It allows us to see how daily life in Malaysia has evolved through time and what factors contributed to that transformation. The contents of Sejarah textbooks also help us in knowing and respecting the people who have made contributions and sacrifices to form our country. Hence, learning Sejarah can prevent history from being repeated. The quote from philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Although history lessons do not always prevent tragedy, they can provide insight into the current and even the future. So, are you well-versed in Malaysia’s history?

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Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister, played an important role in the fight for our independence. He led a group of Malayan ministers and political leaders to London to discuss our freedom with the British. On Feb. 8, 1956, an agreement was made for Malaysia to obtain independence from the British Empire, when the threat of a communist uprising presented by the Malayan Emergency faded. According to National Today, our actual independence was announced the next year, on Aug. 31, 1957, due to logistical and administrative difficulties. On the night of Aug. 30, 1957, thousands gathered in Kuala Lumpur's Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Square) to watch the British handover of control. The Union Jack flag in the square was lowered at the stroke of midnight. The national anthem, Negaraku, was played while the Malayan flag was raised. Malaysia was now independent, as declared by the chanting of "Merdeka" seven times. Jalur Gemilang, the name of our national flag, means “Stripes of Excellence” or “Stripes of Glory” in Malay. According to bergerpaints, The name was given by Malaysia’s Prime Minister at the time, Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad in 1997, as a symbol of the country’s desire for growth and prosperity.

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Malaysia is also known as a country made up of various races, forming a multicultural and multifaceted society in Malaysia. As a result of this, we are able to celebrate the festivals of other groups and to learn more about the culture, traditions, and taboos of others. Celebrating our differences keeps us connected and builds a peaceful environment among Malaysians. These many celebrations also help in the preservation of our culture and traditions, passing them down from generation to generation.

Since Malaysia achieved independence in 1957, Malaysia has held regular elections as it is a democratic nation. Malaysians aged 21 years old and above are eligible for voting. To be a part of the democratic system, the youth must engage in and experience having a voice in the democratic process. Regardless of your political leanings, you have the power to shape our future.

If you are 21 years old or older and have yet to registered to vote, you can do it online through the Election Commission's website (EC). First, you have to create an account through the MySPR Daftar portal. You are required to provide your full name and address according to your MyKad, a valid mobile phone number, a valid email address, a front image of your MyKad, and a selfie with your MyKad. After your application is approved, the EC will subsequently send you a confirmation email. After receiving the confirmation email, you can now log in to the website and update the additional information before doing another TAC verification. That's all! Your registration is done! If you face any problems while registering, you can contact the EC office and they will contact you immediately.

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Last but not least, buying local and supporting locally-made goods is a good way to support our nation. Especially during the ongoing pandemic, many businesses are risking insolvency because they are unable to operate regularly for an extended period of time. According to The Edge Markets, between March and October 2020, 2713 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) closed down in Malaysia. The start of the Movement Control Order forced traditional businesses to change directions and adapt by implementing online shopping platforms and delivery services. According to Chong Chieng Jen, deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, Malaysians' commitment to buying locally manufactured items is still below 40%, despite the fact that more than 75% of them are from the "Buy Malaysian" campaign. Right now, more than ever, we need to support and raise awareness of our local brands.

Photo by Izuddin Helmi Adnan on Unsplash

A modest contribution may go a long way toward ensuring that future generations have equal access to education. The longer our country has been independent, the more sacrifices and efforts made to gain that independence have been forgotten. It is our responsibility to do more for the country, bring meaning to all that sacrifice and pass on the spirit of patriotism from generation to generation.

By Adrena Lee Sin Sian


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