25 Aug 2015

Sehati Sejiwa: 5 Ways to Celebrate Merdeka

“Tanggal tiga puluh satu,
Bulan lapan lima puluh tujuh,
Merdeka, merdeka, tetaplah merdeka,
Ia pasti menjadi sejarah!”

This classic song from Datuk Sudirman Arshad always seems to find its way in my head whenever Merdeka is around the corner. I personally love this song not just for the catchy and upbeat tune, but also for its very simple yet heartfelt lyrics.

If you haven’t already made plans for the long weekend, here are some ways you can celebrate this year’s 58th Merdeka.

1) Reflect on what being Malaysian means to you

Is it the abundance of mouthwatering food, from roadside stalls and Ramadan bazaars to hipster cafes and upscale restaurants? Is it the melting pot of cultures and the diversity that we have, where you get to use mangled sentences like, “Wei macha, you want to makan here or tapau?

Or are you inclined to think about the horrendous traffic jams, the many (alleged) corruption and political scandals that embroil our government and the escalating prices due to GST?

Do you identify yourself as a Malaysian first, or Malay / Chinese / Indian first? Or do you feel that heritage and nationality are separate entities that can co-exist peacefully?

Whenever you travel, what’s the first thing you tell people about Malaysia and being Malaysian?

There is no right or wrong answer. All we ask is that you take a moment during this period to reflect on what being a citizen of Malaysia means to you.

2) Stop complaining and choose to make a difference

With the current instability of the political climate and the depreciating Malaysian ringgit that may be affecting your plans to study abroad, you may not feel very patriotic right now.

And I don’t blame you. Many Malaysian youths are choosing to emigrate to greener pastures for better opportunities.

Yet, there are MANY who choose to stay here in our beloved tanah air, each doing their part for a better Malaysia. Teach for Malaysia is trying to end education inequality, Kechara Soup Kitchen is feeding the homeless and poor in urban areas, and BERSIH is calling for clean and fair elections.

If you are frustrated about something, or if you strongly believe that something needs to be changed, do something about it!

Volunteer at non-profit organisations for causes you feel passionately about or write to your State Assemblyman (Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri / ADUN) about issues in your neighbourhood and see how you can help.

Let’s all be a little less apathetic and choose to make a difference this Merdeka!

3) Fly the “Jalur Gemilang” with pride

Pop quiz — can you draw the Malaysian flag from memory? How many stripes does it have, and does the blue canton (that’s the square on the upper left) end on a red or white stripe?

Our national flag represents a great many things — the red and white stripes is for the 14 states and federal territories that make up Malaysia, the royal yellow is for the country’s monarchy, and above all, the blue is for the unity of our people regardless of race and religion.

This Merdeka, take a moment to remember what the Malaysian flag and the name “Jalur Gemilang” symbolises — the country’s unity and onward drive towards growth and success.

So fly our national flag with pride and joy! Decorate your car with flags (or pimp the entire vehicle if you want!), fly the flag high at schools and colleges, or bake a Malaysian flag cake! It’s a mark of how far we have come and what we have achieved, and a symbol of greater things to come.

PS: The next stripe after the blue canton is the 9th red stripe. Did you get it right?

4) Enjoy Merdeka perks and discounts

We Malaysians certainly love a good discount!

In celebration of Merdeka, a bunch of awesome companies are giving out great deals and promotions. Here are some that we’ve managed to hunt down:

… and lots more!

So take this opportunity to join in on the festivities, and save some money at the same time!

5) Celebrate Malaysian achievements

We’re all familiar with Jimmy Choo and swell with national pride at the mention of Dato’ Lee Chong Wei, but there are loads of other Malaysian achievements to be proud of too!

For example, did you know that the yellow half-boiled egg cooker at almost every mamak (yes, the one cooks your half-boiled eggs perfectly every single time) is actually a Malaysian invention? Or did you know that GrabTaxi (locally known as MyTeksi) is one of ONLY three South East Asia venture-backed private companies that are valued at over US$1 billion?

From Malaysians making waves in lesser known sports (who knew we had champions in CrossFit and are great at Dodgeball?) to being the best at Microsoft PowerPoint, take this time to celebrate the many achievements of our fellow Malaysians!

Hopefully, you will be inspired to make YOUR mark in the world and one day bring pride and glory to our beloved homeland!

What does “Merdeka” mean to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Wishing you a very Happy Merdeka!

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