THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Friday, August 31, 2007

31. Malaysiaku Gemilang

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Malaysia's independence, I have chosen a write-up of Malaysia by Zulkifli Ibrahim of Bernama as my story of Malaysia from 1957 to 2007. It traces the history of Malaya, and then Malaysia from the days of independence to a nation planning aggressively to achieve developed nation status by 2020. A feat very,very few nations can proudly say belongs to them. We just have to look at other nations around the world to see how lucky we have been here. No wars and no unemployment. A rich country many envy because of its abundant natural resources. Malaysia is a heaven of sorts in the world. Multi-cultural, peace-loving, with a large showering of rain and shine that makes living a delight.This has been achieved not entirely without criticisms. These criticisms are not frivolous. Some are true and have to be be seriously addressed in the next 13 years before 2020 for Malaysia to be proudly called developed. There should not be a feeling of being alienated in this wonderful country of ours which we all call our motherland. There should be no fear, favour or injustice to any racial group or individual and all problems should be addressed timely and comprehensively by the relevant departments. The civil service should support the private sector to achieve the desired goals of growth and employment, without redundancy and duplication of functions. Corruption should be replaced with love and loyalty to country. And what about Bangsa Malaysia. It is that elusive feeling of oneness, togetherness, and of belonging ... that feeling I think most of us felt at that Blog House forum on Bangsa Malaysia. Now that feeling has to spread wings throughout the nation. That is what Bangsa Malaysia is all about and being Malaysian means. Being one, united in feeling and spirit, but different culturally and otherwise. Assimilation and Homogeneity are important ingredients of the process. And how do we achieve that? When there is equality, justice, fairness, tolerance, respect, acceptance, and no dominance of one over another. These then are for the next 13 years to a developed country. A toast to Malaysia. Malaysiaku Gemilang! And then towards "Gemilang, Cemerlang, Terbilang" for the next 50 years ahead. A VERY HAPPY 50th MERDEKA TO ALL.

In the weeks after the surrender of the Japanese Army in 1945, the people of Malaya cringed in fear, especially those living in villages fringing the jungles.

Then, almost everynight the communist terrorists who claimed to be units of the Malayan People's Anti Japanese Army (MPAJA) armed with rifles and machetes, would burst into the homes of those they suspected to be collaborating with the invaders during the Japanese occupation.

"They are actually the communist terrorists or 'Bintang Tiga' who are out for vendetta. They simply execute the victims on the spot or bundled them into gunny sacks and melted into the night.

"As for the villagers, they were never to be seen again, believed to be tortured and executed," said 75-year-old government pensioner Ismail Mat Salleh, when recollecting the hardship his family faced in the post Second World War era.

These atrocities were well depicted in novels like "Leftenan Nor Pahlawan Gerila", Jungle Has Eyes and Force 136.


"There is no such thing anymore. It is a much different situation now where peace and prosperity is alive in Malaysia," said Ismail who was a young teenager during the chaotic years of the occupation.

Some of the former British colonialists who returned to Malaysia simply could not believe what Malaysia has metamorphosised into today.

Harold Desmond Davies, a scotsman who worked as a rubber plantation planter in Malaya during the Emergency said: "Malaya (Malaysia) has developed tremendously and progressed rapidly.

"During my time (communist insurgency years of 1948-1960), the place to go in Kuala Lumpur then was the Coliseum Cafe where the British planters and miners would hang their carbines and pistols on the gun rack before going for their 'setengah' (drinks).

"Now look at the skyscrappers in the country, not to mention the LRTs, KL's hotel, commercial and corporate district, world's tallest twin towers (Petronas Twin Towers) and Putrajaya.
Malaya has majestically and brilliantly transformed itself into an ultra-modern nation".

Davies, who is visiting an Eurasian relative, told Bernama this here recently.

And what have Malaysians got to say about their own country?

"It is a rather short time span actually. It was only 50 years ago that the Merdeka Stadium reverberated with the shouts of 'Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!' said businessman Alfred Chong.
"Even though some may still label us as a third world country, we are proud of our own country.
"Third world? Look at other nations, several of them are still in chaos and strife-torn, Chong said referring to several Asian, African and former Soviet Union and Yugoslavian countries.

Chong said Malaysia is proud to have its own daughters and sons as the world beaters in sports apart from being renowned scientists, corporate figures and political leaders.

"We have Malaysian doctors, engineers, pilots and giant corporations like Petronas. Not to mention the facilities like Sepang F1 Circuit," he said.

Former teacher Abdul Rahman Ismail attributed Malaysia's transformation to its own people.

"If the colonialists are still here, we will not progress this far. Malaysia would still be a poor country where its natural resources like tin, rubber, palm oil or even petroleum would be siphoned off by the colonial masters.

If the money is gone, how can the nation's leaders develop the country. Hence, the Malays would remain in the villages, the Indians still working in estates and the Chinese operating small grocery shops and kopitiams, said Abdul Rahman.


Businessman K. Muniandy echoed Abdul Rahman's statement.

"It is the effort of all Malaysians actually. The late leaders like Tunku (Abdul Rahman Putra), (Tun) Sambathan, Tun Tan (Cheng Lok) and the others took the initiative to ask for independence peacefully.

Muniandy said he is thankful for being able to earn a handsome living and live in a peaceful country.

"What else do you want, despite several economic hiccups the government is able to provide free education for the schools, good business environment for the local and foreign investors through stability, good healthcare services and many others.

Muniandy said Malaysians need to accept some of the economic drawbacks like the hike in petroleum products, expressway tolls, increase in power, telecommunication and water supply tariffs as it is unavoidable and also happened in other nations.

"These things happen if Malaysians want to progress. Even though the Government attempts to avoid this economic glitches, such events do happen from time to time in other countries too," he said.


Former army colonel Mohd Zaid Agus said Malaysia and its people have managed to survive and progressed economically during the five decades after Merdeka.

"It us Malaysians that fought for ourselves. It is our leaders that mapped our future. The colonial masters simply left us after reaping our rich resources.

"After Merdeka, some international powers expected us to collapse and fell into chaos. However that did not happened," he said.

Mohd Zaid said it was the resolve of the people that the then young nation survived the challenges.

"We battled and won against the Chin Peng-led communist insurgents during the Emergency and in the Confrontation, guerillas from a neighbouring country during the 'Ganyang Malaya' campaign.

Mohd Zaid said Malaysia also survived the 1997 economic downturn and still managed to stage the 16th Commonwealth Games in 1998.

"This proved that us Malaysians are made of sterner stuff," he added.


It boils to one thing -- racial unity and harmony, said social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

"Malaysians have worked hard to achieve unity and harmony. The Government has installed various programmes for this effort including the National Service Training programme". Lee, who is the National Service Training Council Chairman said this recently.

"This augurs well for a Gemilang Malaysia," he said.

Despite several dark blotches in the annals of the country's history like the May 13 incidents, Malaysia has progressed well into this millennium.

Well done, "Malaysiaku, Gemilang".