I watched the programme 'Ambang Merdeka' on TV last night which I thought was very impressive and colourful. I also wanted to see who will be hoisting the Jalur Gemilang this time, and surely it was not Khairy Jamaluddin or members from Permuda UMNO. The Jalur Gemilang was appropriately hoisted by students of PLPKM.
As I viewed the ongoing events, I began to recall a similar event in August 1957, especially the lowering of the Union Jack, and the hoisting of the flag of independent Malaya which happened at the stroke of midnight.
There was no TV than, and I wasn't brave enough to leave the house and to walk several miles to the Padang in front of Sultan Abdul Samad building to watch the flag lowering and hoisting ceremony, as well as to welcome Merdeka Day. I was 14 years old than; old enough by today's standards to leave the house with or without the parents consent. However, I wasn't one of those who dared to defy my parents, to leave the house and to return home pass midnight.
Fortunately, we had the radio and it was through this media that we followed the historical events of the night of August 30, 1957, and the shouts of Merdeka at the stroke of midnight.
Malaysia is now 51 years old, and the physical development that we see in Kuala Lumpur and around the country today is so obviously different. There was no bus service to school, and walking to school was a joy as it wasn't too hot. There was no fear of me being knocked down by a car, because the route to school was usually empty. It is so different today, and I would not dare allow my 11 year old grandson to walk to his school, which is just a short distance away from my house.
Despite all the wonderful things that we see happening today, I just wonder whether Malaysians are truly Malaysians. We still call ourself Malays, Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Indians. Why this race categorisation? Why not just Malaysians? This is the central issue that has made us suspicious of each other. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just walk into our neighbour's house, not thinking that he is a Malay, Chinese or Indian? I also believe that UMNO, MCA and MIC in its present racially bias distinguishable entity, should not exist any longer.
Many will disagree with what I have said above. But I can't help but to express my views about what Malaysians are today, because I grew up in an environment where my neighbours and schoolmates were truly Malayans.