Danni Rais

We are just a year shy of 60. The average human at this age would already be enjoying the extension of his own family tree, with grandchildren ensuring the continuity of the blood line. It is common practice to be spoiling the younglings with love and kindness, more so than their own direct offsprings, yet teaching them the importance of heritage, tradition, origins and such will be inculcated into them, to ensure such knowledge is never lost. The family must continue with its good name, and everyone plays a part in upholding that responsibility.

Malaysia is by no means old, yet is old enough to ensure and maintain that her good name continues. The youngest generation only know of the good times through stories shared, inconceivable to their minds like it is folklore, of how united Malaysians once were when development in the country was more primitive; the stance of moderation was a norm and not a calling, the respect shared was not only skin deep and people were accepted rather than tolerated. We have come to a point now that as we look around ourselves, there appears to be more campaigns for greater moderation, an insecurity to the rise of extremism, a lack of acceptance of those of differing backgrounds and beliefs. Certainly there is no smoke without fire, so it would not be wrong to identify that there is a segment of society that feels we have strayed from the moderate path, indicating an eery sense of extremism creeping into our daily lives, resulting in peace and harmony being under attack. We cannot close our eyes on these issues deemed important enough for individuals to sacrifice time and money to raise awareness. It is imperative a closer look is taken in overcoming the possible worst case scenario, of which by then it will be too late to turn around.

Prevention is better than cure. The Malaysia we all want is of prosperity and happiness, and surely there does not exist one person unpatriotic enough to denounce this wish and vision. The future is dependant upon the current generation, and to be guided by those who have lived through the good times. In moving forward, there needs to be a sense of nationalism within the hearts of the young so as to ensure their efforts are continually moulded for the good of the nation; once a general sentiment of losing hope shrouds over them, that is when this future we are vying for will become a risk. There is a need for hope to be injected, that confidence in the system of governance, executive and the judiciary will continue in a healthy and democratic way, as independant as possible in their functions to execute their roles and responsibilities according to the direction the country is required to be.

Certainly there is much ado about local support of our homegrown talents, rather than having our attention taken away by the things that are beyond our shores. Sports and entertainment that we see on the television screen is mostly the product of other countries. We have yet to fully achieve in injecting the value of pride in what we have locally, with the plight of local artistes a terribly kept secret. No doubt that this is also a two way street, in that the local product must also be of value and quality to make headlines to encourage local support.

We must continue to look abroad for healthy competition, and learn from those who are doing well. The beautiful side of somewhere, of greener pastures than home, seems to be taking away our brightest minds. In asserting a brighter future, we must ensure that we do not lose out to our neighbours who are fishing from our already diminishing talent pool. In life, to think that you are so great so as to not be able to improve any further is a cancer of the mind that will never allow an individual to grow. Our weaknesses need to be addressed, our strengths to be utilised. More effort needs to be made to ensure that Malaysia continues to become the land of opportunities. Malaysia is not perfect, however we are certainly in a better position than other countries; the envy of many. Our economy continues to grow positively, and we face no immediate threat of war, and even mother nature has been very kind to us. How we continue this trend will be crucial in the years ahead.

Much can be learnt from the recently concluded Olympics, and it would be a good yardstick to test ourselves. Truly unfortunate was us not getting the much desired gold medal, remaining elusive to us for at least the next 4 years when the age old tradition of competition moves on to Tokyo. Nonetheless this may have been a great blessing for us. It ensures that our efforts in creating champions will continue, and understanding success in grooming the new generation of sportsmen is crucial to ensure future success. To already identify the next set of would-be champions is as important as an organisation identifying the successors to lead, commonly known as succession planning in many businesses. We mustn’t take this for granted, and this allows us an opportunity to work together in identifying our weaknesses and making them stronger.

Our neighbours have earned their boasting rights in gaining a gold medal before us. Let us use this as fuel in moving forward. We must learn from other countries that have been continually performing well. Countries such as Australia have a lesser population than us (24 million as of 2016), in comparison to our near 30 million population. Yet, their sports development is central in raising their young, grooming of future champions become easier, and the support they gain from the public ensures the continuity of the sports. Not only that, as Australia is a developed nation with a land mass larger than us, they’ve succeeded in developing every city, every stadium is filled, they watch their own television shows, they cheer on their local athletes to the extent that they’re the only nation that plays ‘Aussie footy’. It’s a common jibe we Malaysians make to Singapore, that their small population and small land mass makes it easier for them to develop. We should not be looking for any more excuses, as we have the population, the brains, the natural resources to ensure we become the roaring tiger of old.

However, sports is only an indication. The great football teams of Brazil and Argentina have long been associated with success, however the development of their nation tells a different story. This is where Malaysia is destined to only grow bigger, and fortunate enough that we already live in a social climate ripe for growth. But the mindset needs to be correct. The mindset of positivity and not of insecurity must be developed in our children, knowing that Malaysia provides them ample opportunity for future successes. Implement the idea that we are akin to the American dream of ASEAN, and that only through healthy competition will we prosper in the right ways. Religious doctrine indoctrinated in the wrong ways will hold back our development, and Malaysia needs to have continued discourse in acknowledging the good and the bad, what is acceptable and what is not, so long as the identity of Malaysia is maintained.

At this juncture, I applaud the recent efforts by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, in highlighting our lack of grassroot development in sports and ensuring that more effort is placed for its growth, and suggesting that the Education Ministry be involved in ensuring better development for the young, and also the Ministry of Higher Education in highlighting the little known successes of education in their ‘Soaring Upwards’ campaign.

Unity is a pillar for any country. However, unity’s greatest destruction is led by a lack of belief in a cause. United we must remain through education, through language, through acceptance of differing beliefs and mindsets. We need to refrain from anti-social practices, and ensure that we emphasise on the importance of a more inclusive society; otherwise calling ourselves a ‘melting pot’ of culture will be redundant.

Nation building is not only dependant on governance, but of the whole nation. We as individuals all play a crucial role in allowing for our views to be heard, to ensure a constant development of the correct mindset in society, a vision and a dream that we can all look forward to. No different when Tuanku Abdul Rahman repeated the words of Merdeka, uniting the nation and fuelling the sense of patriotism in what could possibly be for this beautiful country we call home, 59 years ago. What do we feel when we hear the word Merdeka? We must feel a sense of belonging, and that we must always look forward to the next step. But what we truly need to ask ourselves is this – are we, as individuals, truly representative of the country that we wish to be? That we practice the very characteristics of a developed nation? They say that change must begin with ourselves. And so, if we are not pushing ourselves to become better individuals, which would lead to a better society, then what more can we hope for from others? Let’s not bicker, let’s not condemn, but let us look at ourselves, for who and how we are today, is the Malaysia of tomorrow. Let’s remind ourselves that the children of today would not exist without our forefathers, and so this collective responsibility is ours alone to bear, together as a nation.

Selamat Menyambut Hari Merdeka, Malaysia. Tanah tumpahnya darahku.