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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Now That We're 49: One Citizen's Wish

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Image hosting by PhotobucketHappy (belated) 49th Merdeka Day, sports fans!

Ok, so Walski's a couple of days late, but it helps clear the clutter of posts on the subject, one supposes. As you may have guessed, this will be the last post in the series. For the most part, it's been a rather quiet Merdeka for Walski. One of contemplation, one of soul-searching.

And what did Walski do on August 31st? Well, apart from making the house liveable again after almost a week away, Walski and the Mrs went for a bit of jalan-jalan around town, and for some reason ended the afternoon at Bangsar shopping Center - BSC to those who frequent it. If you do read the NST, you'd probably know that they have put together a picture exhibition at BSC (until sometime early September), displaying scenes from our history. And for those of you who haven't gone to view it, Walski strongly recommends it.

While the exhibition, overall, was interesting and educational, enabling Walski a look into our nation's past, there was one item in particular that caught Walski's attention, more than anything else - it was the Proclamation of Independence (the English version), which is included in the collection of images.

Image hosting by PhotobucketProclamation of Independence - original, in Jawi.
This is not what was on display, by the way.
(image taken from the Malaysian National Library website)

Here's what our Bapa Kemerdekaan (Father of Independence), the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, first Prime Minister of Malaysia, proclaimed on that historic day, 49 years ago:

Image hosting by PhotobucketIn the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Praise to God, the Lord of the Universe, and may the benediction and peace of God be upon Our Leader Muhammad and upon all his Relations and Friends.

WHEREAS by an Agreement made on the Ninth day of July in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three between the Federation of Malaya, the United Kingdom, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore it was agreed that there shall be federated the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore with the Federation of Malaya comprising the states of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang and Malacca, and that the Federation shall thereafter be called "MALAYSIA":

AND WHEREAS it has been agreed by the parties to the said Agreement that as from the establishment of Malaysia the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore shall cease to be colonies of Her Majesty the Queen and Her Majesty the Queen shall relinquish Her Sovereignty and jurisdiction in respect of the three States:

AND WHEREAS there has been promulgated a Constitution for Malaysia which shall be the supreme law therein:

AND WHEREAS by the Constitution aforesaid provision has been made for the safeguarding of the rights and prerogatives of Their Highnesses the Rulers and the Fundamental rights and liberties of subjects and for the promotion of peace and harmony in Malaysia as a constitutional monarchy based upon parliamentary democracy:

AND WHEREAS the Constitution aforesaid having been approved by a law passed by the Parliaments of the Federation of Malaya and of the United Kingdom has come into force on the Sixteenth day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three:

NOW in the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, I, TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA AL-HAJ IBNI ALMARHUM SULTAN ABDUL HAMID HALIM SHAH, Prime Minister of Malaysia, with the concurrence and approval of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of the Federation of Malaya, His Excellency the Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore, His Excellency the Yang di-Pertua Negara of Sabah and His Excellency the Governor of Sarawak, DO HEREBY DECLARE AND PROCLAIM on behalf of the peoples of Malaysia that as from the Sixteenth day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three, corresponding to the twenty-eighth day of Rabi'ul Akhir in the year of the Hijrah one thousand three hundred and eighty-three, that

MALAYSIA comprising the States of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Malacca, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak shall by the Grace of God, the Lord of the Universe, forever be an independent and sovereign democratic State founded upon liberty and justice, ever seeking to defend and uphold peace and harmony among its people and to perpetuate peace among nations.

A simple, concise, yet all-encompasing declaration. But what is it about this declaration that left Walski with a lump in his throat, after reading it?
(more thoughts about our Independence in the full post)

For one thing, it is the fact that what our Bapa Kemerdekaan wanted for Malaysia is exactly what Walski, too, wants - that Malaysia be a sovereign, independent, and Democratic state, based on liberty and justice. For all Malaysians. Not just the priviledged few, but for ALL.

There are those who want something different for our country, it would seem. Something quite different from what our founding fathers wanted. Walski doesn't need to elaborate what that something is - not in this post anyway. It is a something that is explicitly not mentioned in our proclamation of independence.

And perhaps it was not mentioned for good reason. Perhaps it is because our founding fathers knew that this something would not be able to facilitate an environment of liberty and justice for all.

Liberty is a far-reaching word. While there are some who view the use of liberty to simply mean breaking away from British rule, to Walski it implies a guarantee of personal liberty as well. A personal liberty that is free from intrusion from the state.

Justice, however, is a much more straightforward word. And yet, it is something that until today we've not been able to achieve. Not it the true sense of the word, at least.

In retrospect, 49 years down the road, in some ways, we are moving further away from the ideal nation that our forefathers struggled to found. Our personal liberties are slowly but surely being encroached upon little by little. And while there is some semblance of justice, it can sometimes be a very selective justice. Sadly, thought, there are those who actually welcome this, and worse, want more encroachment into our lives.

To Walski, however, those who want this, do not form the majority. It's just that they are very vocal and very loudly vocal.

So, as we pass the 49th milestone of our young nation's history, trudging forward towards the half-century mark, it is this one citizen's hope and wish that all other citizens know and understand what was actually declared. And that all citizens to work together, as a united Malaysia, to achieve what Tunku, and our other founding fathers, sought nearly 50 years ago.

Contrary to popular misconception, there is space for everyone in Malaysia. Be you conservative, liberal, Muslim or otherwise, the bigger picture should always be the goal - that we maintain our nation on the path towards being a nation of free peoples. And not a free nation of people in self-imposed shackles, still caught in a self-destructive idealism of exclusivity, denial of liberty and true justice.

We have, for the past 49 years, been a nation respected for its diversity of cultures, religions and even thought. Let's not undo that which has been our strength.

All that said, Happy Birthday, Malaysia - may you continue to hold your head up high as a shining example of tolerance, diversity and progress. God-willing.

But God usually expects us mortals to put in some effort first. Nothing comes our way without toil. And in the effort department, we sure have deficits to make up for.

And so, Walski hopes that the aspirations of Tunku and his contemporaries are still the same aspirations that we, Malaysians of the 21st century, want to achieve. And what a truly great achievement that would be.