21 November 2011

Blog | Project Malaysia

It is that time of the year again, the season for commemorating our nation. Personally for me this time of the year now seems longer than usual. Growing up in school through the 80s and 90s it was only Merdeka Day. But I heard from speaking to people who were around to witness the formation of Malaysia that Malaysia Day was once celebrated in unison.

Today we start observing our history, nationhood, independence and what it means being Malaysian in August right up to Malaysia Day 16 September. I am not going to delve into whether or not we should celebrate Merdeka or September 16. Both to me mark the relevant historical significance and in many ways one led to the other.

When we embarked on a Malaysia Day episode we found ourselves most interested in the future. And so this week Hear and Now… in Malaysia journey into hearing out young voices. Do we have hope? What is driving the younger generation to embark on making a difference? Is being Malaysian relevant to them? Is there a need to constantly try and identify what it means to be Malaysian to them?

As one of them said in the episode:
“To be honest, I think that being Malaysian doesn’t matter to anybody at all, most youths, because people don’t feel the need to identify themselves as Malaysians in the first place. Everyone’s so disillusioned and everyone has lost hope in our country for most people that I’ve mixed around with, to be very honest. Only the top 10 percentile or 20 percentile of the people I know are actually doing something about it…”

Cynical I know but he was hopeful too and was very clear in articulating what we need as a nation:

“Even though I’ve said that most people don’t care, I believe we can ignite a spark in people’s hearts lah. I believe no one is that apathetic; no one is that cynical. Sometimes people just need to see something, to give them hope.

… to bring things back to what matters, which is the issues. And I think that’s really what we need at the moment in Malaysia – to bring a revolution of the mindset and not just a revolution by going to the streets.”

So we spoke to about 12 youths from 3 different groups: EPIC, Serambi and UndiMsia. And it was amazing to find one unifying sentiment from all interviewed. Thas is, in this journey of nation building, they want to build a home. They want to fix the structural problems of this home and most importantly the mindsets of people living in it.

It was also about a strong realization that things are only going to get more complex and challenging. The Malaysia we see, taste and hear today will be different 50 years from now. Are we ready for this? Well the youth we spoke to are certainly getting there much faster than many of us are…

Happy Malaysia Day everyone!


Nova Ceceliana Nelson

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