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12:40pm 08/09/2022
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A Malaysia Jalur without Gemilang
By:Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi

As we head towards September 16 of the formation of Malaysia with the “Jalur Gemilang” waving in the wind, I recounted the 20th time when I did not feel that the jalur has any gemilang whatsoever.

It was in 1998 when I witnessed on television a man stripped of his dignity as a Muslim, as a Malaysian and as a human being by a government I was ashamed to call my own.

From that day until the early morning of May 10, 2018, I felt myself a stranger in my own country. The thought of celebrating Malaysia or Merdeka Day, watching the national football or takraw teams battle out other nations held no more joy as my own birthplace was a shameful excuse of a nation.

It was one thing to see politicians clearly destroying the trust we have as a nation between its people, but it was excruciating to see the civil servants loyally defending their unholy institutions and agencies.

Adding to that was the insult of religious bodies and personalities paid by taxpayers playing a silent tune amidst the atrocities surrounding the corruption and inhuman treatment of a man as well as others trying to protect whatever dignity that was left for us to call ourselves a sovereign nation where Islam was the official religion.

The Jalur Gemilang was a blur of gray and black in the haze of darkness reminding one of the dirty, deteriorating “upside down” world of the Stranger Things series.

Even the recent jailing of a former prime minister brought me no sense of joy or “completeness.” All I muttered was “well…it took long enough.”

As I sat down at a cafe, I saw a group of young Malay men discussing about Malaysia Day. When I inquired, I asked them what they were planning.

They said they had a work assignment to gauge the patriotism and love for the country through the respect for the national anthem.

The men wanted to play the national anthem at the cafe and record on video who would stand up.

I smiled and asked point blank, what would happen if no one stood up? Does that mean they do not have any love or loyalty for their country? Or could it mean that they love their country but are upset and disappointed as leaders are screwing this country by robbing it blind as well as jeopardizing the security of the nation with undelivered battle ships, attack helicopters and lord knows with perhaps defective submarines?

I told the men that I had never put a Malaysian flag on my car for twenty years during Merdeka or Malaysia Day.

From 1998 to 2022, the only time that I would put proudly the Jalur Gemilang was in 2018 and 2019.

But when 2020 came, the Sheraton Move betrayed all the hopes of good Malaysians wishing that this country would once again be the envy of the rest in Asia.

Now this country is competing to be the best pariah nation on the planet. And we are “winning” as the worst nation on earth.

From 1998 to 2022, the only time that I would put proudly the Jalur Gemilang was in 2018 and 2019.

The pandemic saw how racial and religious lines blurred for the very first time when the people stood behind the “new” government of opportunists.

What was the reward for us Malaysians then? A declaration of Emergency to prop a weak leader and an even weaker government in power.

I thought that the Emergency would wipe out our freedom, liberty and dignity as citizens of Malaysia but it was rescinded at the last minute and declared that it was not legitimate and annulled like a marriage that was forged in mistake.

After the pandemic, we Malaysians were presented with a government that no longer respects the faiths of others and the freedom of thought by letting one political party pronounce religious verdicts that would destroy the very foundation of our multiculturalism built upon by our forefathers of all races and faiths.

The so-called professors and intellectuals of our public universities remained silent as if theirs is a silence of agreement to the new conservative values that would restrict forever our way of life within the narrow confines of one faith only.

The coup de grâce came in 2022 when the LCS battleship scandal surfaced weeks before a company declared payouts to civil servants of the highest rank in government as well as to politicians.

What is there to celebrate this Malaysia Day? Waving a Jalur Gemilang without anything to be gemilang about?

So, play the national anthem a thousand times and give out a million flags, that would not change who we as a nation now have become.

If I were 20 years younger and have the financial strength to leave this country with my children, I think I would have done so without much hesitation.

The future is bleak and the end is nowhere in sight. An election is not going to solve anything unless we truly understand the real fault lines in our country.

The next 50 years of our grandchildren’s lives must fall now squarely on each of us Malaysians, if we want our country back.

We have to do the things we did not do the last 60 odd years. It will take more than putting an “X” inside a small box on a piece of paper. It will take every inch of our faith and every fiber of our intellect to be the moral force and the change we want to see for our grandchildren.

Our country is ours and waving the flag is not requisite of our loyalty and hope.

We must redefine our ways of communication, rethink our faith in religion more towards building a nation and revamp our values to consider all our grandchildren and children as our own.

There is little value in the present corps of leaders and politicians. We are and should always be the leaders and politicians of our own future.

(Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor of Architecture at a local university and his writing reflects his own personal opinion entirely.)

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Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
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