Tuesday, August 21, 2007


my merdeka celebration

this coming thirtyfirst august our beloved country malaysia celebrates the 50th merdeka day , a historic and significant milestone. fifty years of independance! something to really celebrate and feel good about. but unfortunately i'll be somewhere in vietnam around this time so i can't participate in this year's celebration by watching the usual fireworks display over KLCC and mawi concert as malaysians usually do by way of commemorating this august day which happens to fall on the last day of august.

but celebration has already started since at least early this month and every responsible citizen is urged by our beloved government to show our patriotism by displaying jalur gemilang on our cars, houses, business premises and buildings. (the government will take care of the lamp posts and trees lining major streets). but sadly, despite the exhortation, pleading and and appeal by our beloved leaders this campaign does not seem to be too successful and if displaying jalur gemilang is a yardstick to measure our patriotism and love for our country, based on my observation , we're a hopeless and unpatriotic lot and lorry drivers are our most patriotic citizens for mostly lorries carrying sand and timbers seem to be the only ones that carry malaysian flag, the jalur gemilang. there are ocassional proton sagas and wiras that you come across having little flags on the car hood - and they look positively silly and forlorn among seas of gleaming mercs, toyotas, hyundais and kias without this patriotic appendage - but i guess these are our usual umno rakan muda or pemudas who will follow everything our beloved government says to the letter.

and here's the real issue. one beloved government minister was completely taken by surprise when a shop owner, when asked the reason why he did not put up a flag at his restaurant answered that if he did, he was afraid that customers may not come to his premise thinking that he is a bn supporter!. and he has a point. I too do not put a flag on my car simply because i don't want to be mistaken for an umno asshole. not that i'm not patriotic but when merdeka seems to be hijacked as though it's a BN celebration, it'd be safer to take a back seat.

here's another thing. i was reading the utusan malaysia the other day and they have this glowing articles on our prime ministers past and present and i glanced at the chronology of tunku's life and the history of our first PM suddenly ended after he stepped down as our PM. no mention about him leaving umno, and joining the Semangat 46 and died a sad man. there's too much airbrushing and spin on everything it can make ones dizzy, not with exhilaration but revulsion.

but still, i'm a patriotic man in my own way. so for the first time in my life i thought i'd do the right thing and today i went and visited our national monument the tugu peringatan as a way of reigniting the flame of national pride and that sort of thing. so happened that i had this vietnamese visitor so i brought him along. big mistake. first thing my vietnamese friend mentioned was that they have many monuments like this in vietnam (true), and vietnam may be a lot poorer and less developed compared to our beloved malaysia but one thing they excelled in is fighting. they beat the crap out of the french at dien bien phu, they chased out the chinese, and their crowning glory, they are the only people on earth that beat the shit out of the americans. so what did malaysians die for, he asked me?

so i said..urmm, let see. we're a very peaceful country thank god. the only soldiers that died in the past thirty years or so were those that crashed their nuris and other planes during training as far as i know. the hundreds of thousands reportedly killed in the last war ? they helped the brit colonial masters to fight brit's war against the japs. and some starved to death as japanese prisoners building railway tracks on the river kwai. don't you have heroes?, he asked. we do , more or less i said. there's one mat kilau. and another is tok janggut . not exactly shih huang ti for sure but they did rebel against the british. didn't amount to much but still....and he asked why the national monument had so few names on the plaques and who were these people with mostly english names? and why was the statue designed by an american?, don't you have your own sculptors?....so i said, oh fuck, don't ask too many questions, lets go to lunch.

and one unfortunate event that cast a dark shadow over this year's merdeka celebration is that untimely rendition of our national anthem as a rap song by that malaysian chinese boy studying in taiwan with his creative lyrics thrown in. i can totally understand our government's ire and for once i sided with the government on this one. my surprise though is that the pemuda umno which is usually very belligerent in this sort of situation seemed very muted in their response this time.

still, you must know how to draw the line. as i always say, i love freedom of expression but you wouldn't stand up and piss on your grand mother's head would you?

can't help thinking that this silly boy must be unduly influenced by that great and politically incorrect borat movie. truly one of my favorite movies for this year . even the title is hilarious. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. And as this excellent review described;

Baron Cohen really shows his class when Borat is a guest at a Texan rodeo. He fearlessly strides into the centre of the ring with his mic, loudly praises his hosts' "War of Terror", leads wild cheering when he expresses the hope that Iraq is bombed so that even the lizards are killed, but then with magnificent effrontery allows his audience to suspect they've been duped by singing a transparently absurd "Kazakh national anthem" about potassium production to the tune of The Star-Spangled Banner.

even the country bumpkins at this rodeo show were incensed by this transgression on their national anthem and kazakhstan president even made an official personal complaint to george w about this movie and he mauling of his country's national anthem so the silly chinese boy ought to know what's coming when he did what he did. and by the way, kazakhstan isn't too different politically from malaysia. so he should have known.

the latest election gave kazakhstan president nursultan nazarbayez 88% votes and all the seats. why is it that the more backward a country is, the more popular the political rulers seem to be? malaysia has been ruled by the same government since independence and will likely to continue to be so in the next thousand years. so i guess one of the ways people with brains show their dissatisfaction is by singing the national anthem as a rap song. hmmmm.

And all this while I thought the "silly Chinese boy" was doing the country a favour by updating our tired national anthem! You surely can't deny that it has a catchy beat? I heard Malaysian teenagers are wild with it. Getting old and grumpy, greenbottle? :)
roxanne dah ling;
tired or not, and some even says that our nat. anthem is plagiarized from some song or other, but still...you have to draw the line somewhere...what the boy did was brilliant but wrong.
I have a different view, I'm afraid. Being a (somewhat) musician myself, there's a difference between parodying/desecrating the anthem (which I think Namawee did NOT do), and using it as a relevant background piece, common in the rap genre.

For one thing, in the parts where he did sing from Negaraku, it was done as per spec. Although, some might argue, that Namawee even used the national anthem was in itself disre-spec-tful.

What most Malay/Muslims were probably furious about is the part where the morning call to prayer is referred to as an "alarm clock", claiming that Namawee had insulted Islam. Well, guess what? The azan subuh, for most people, is exactly that, an alarm clock to wake the faithful from their slumber to perform the dawn prayers. Somehow, some of us hold the symbolisms of Islam to be more sacred than anything else...

Reading thru the lyrics, though, what I find is a cynical, but real, view of life in Malaysia, and a critique of how some people and authorities behave.

To me, personally, Negarakuku was a musical representation of the irony of Malaysia - the juxtaposition of how the powers that be would like others to see Malaysia, versus the reality of Malaysia from varying eyes...

But hey... bottom line is this: that a young lad's miguided artistic exploits got a lot more flak and publicity than a RM 4b scandal tells me that something is very, terribly wrong!

welcome back. long time no hear...
i lost you but now you're bookmarked.

i'm afraid i haven't been following up this nat anthem issue v much. may be you're right. one can say that he has done no wrong...after all one time the govt changed the nat anthem to be a bit uptempo...this can also be regarded as a transgression ...

jasper john the american artist did a few interpretation of american flags in his paintings ...and these are considered as ART...so i guess what the boy did can also be considered 'art'...and that's why i'm somewhat ambivalent towards the issue...
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