The word ‘Merdeka’ can have a personal significance for every individual- a personal interpretation.
As patriotism infuses the nation once again, ‘Merdeka’ means different things to some community leaders.
Embedded in their interpretations are their memories, their hopes and their vision for a future Malaysia.
Greater oppression and independence
For Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh, her first taste of independence was when she traveled abroad to Australia to further her higher education.
According to her, the greater the oppressions are, the more meaningful the independence will be.
Ironically enough, after stating that racial discriminations, oppressive law and corruptions are form of oppressions that the country must release itself from, Hannah also added highway tolls in the list.
“Highway toll, in another sense, is a form of oppression too,” she said.
“The fact that Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong is granting free access to every motorist yesterday illustrates a vivid picture on how people are suppressed by toll system.”
Yeoh strongly believes that the younger generation should garner the will to change things, and not flee or compromise when they are dissatisfied with existing structures in the country.
Dependence and Independence
Petaling Jaya city councilor Derek Fernandez meanwhile was philosophical when asked about freedom; stating that with freedom, he learned that there are some questions in life that cannot be answered.
Comparing the country to that of a middle-aged woman, Fernandez claims that the country should no longer ‘hold a dad’s hand to cross a road’.
Fernandez thinks that the authorities are defining ‘Merdeka’ narrowly by portraying a rosy image of the country since independence was attained.
“There is useless to celebrate ‘Merdeka’ if we are unable to build a prosper nation after kicking out the colonials,” he said.
“As what we can see now, political rifles, down of foreign investments, violations of human right, all these have led to the stagnation of the nation.”
‘Merdeka’ and poverty eradication
Subang Jaya municipal councilor Roslan Shahir meanwhile believes that poverty eradication is important so that every person in the country can acquire their personal ‘independence’.
“Without economical independence, one can never stand on his own feet,” he said.
For Tan Jo Hann, another MPSJ councilor, living in an independent country is about being able to strike changes and the power to determine the destiny of the nation.
As these voices almost equivocally state, Malaysia is still pushing the wheels of betterment; but now imperative is on the people to start executing their freedom in order to bring out changes that can
Malaysia a better home for all involved.