A Subdue Merdeka Coming Up

From The Malaysian Insider

AUG 28 — It must be quite telling that this year’s Merdeka Day celebrations appear subdued. Not a lot of flags, buntings, pomp and pageantry in the streets.The official excuse is the Ramadan fasting month and fears over the A (H1N1) flu outbreak that has claimed 71 lives. No sense in having the usual march past involving a cast of thousands if they are likely to fall sick, either from fasting or the flu.

There is another dark cloud in the horizon as Aug 31 National Day festivities this year is really being marred by religious and racial fault lines.

The Shah Alam Hindu temple relocation is the latest issue to join a host of other issues like protests over rock concerts, no beer sales, the caning of Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno and the growing argument that minorities have to make way in Malay-majority areas.

Should a protest against a Hindu temple get so extreme and out of hand with Muslims stomping a cow head, knowing full well the animal is sacred to the religion.

As Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin asks, how would Muslims feel if others burned or stepped on the Quran if the situation was reversed?

(Read here for the complete Malaysian Insider article.)

Adding to this, the backdrop casts a gloomy shadow this coming Merdeka Day.

The sudden death of Teoh Beng Hock at the Selangor MACC remains unexplained.  The Coroner’s Inquiry is on-going but it is quite revealing that much is still being unsaid and hidden.

Then Black Eyed Peas concert coming up has given Malaysia a black eye with the edict that muslims cannot attend the event.  Initially was a call to prevent the event from happening but the compromise was to keep certain people away.  It appears that after 51 years of independence that there needs to be moral watchdog to tell the people what they can and cannot do.  Recently, a group protesting the sale of alcohol at a housing area also provoked the same challenges, who can drink what and sell what at what place.

This gradual build up started with the grabbing of the Perak State Government and started to snowball through the months as Najib scrambled to put his team in place.  KPI measurement with Koh Tsu Koon and now with the appointment of Idris Jala, the MD of MAS, into the KPI foray is a further attempt by Najib to show his seriousness in making his team work with accountability.  But is KPI measurements going to make Najib’s cabinet work better than all other previous cabinets or being a mere window dressing to look different?

Merdeka Day for the 52nd year coming up, there remains the sound of silence to Sarawak and Sabah.  Malaysian flags are not widely flown in private homes.  The people are not feeling joyous or particularly patriotic at the moment, not enough to really be jubilant to do more because of this backdrop.

Moving the Merdeka celebrations to the Parliament House is quite a change.  With the A(H1N1) aggression together with the host of other looming challenges and a weak economy, Najib has a lot on his plate to bring up the spirits of Malaysians of all walks of life.

There are 2 days to go and this seems to be the most subdued Merdeka for as long as we can remember.


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