Stand up...


Written on 6/06/2005 11:56:00 am by sikapitan

I was in Bukit Merah for the past 3 days, and plus last week was my final week in ZiCo, so I apologize for not being able to post anything new/fresh. After 4 weeks and 4 days working in a law firm, I have come to this very simple yet life-altering conclusion – I don’t enjoy “law” anymore. At first, it was interest that drew me to legal studies, and then I view it simply as a tool to get rich. Now, I have realized that it is NOT the best means towards the end (which is to get rich bloody quick). I knew it all along; it is just that the sight of young men and women working tirelessly day and night in cold, soulless rectangle cage took its toll on my active imagination. I am in a perilous state - sure of where I want to go, just not sure how to get there.

Well, last week was a slow week in terms of news (as usual), but one news stood out – but not because it’s in the front page, mind you. It appears to be another weird case of impulsive decision-making (see National Service) by the Government when they propose that the National Anthem be played before the screening of movies in the cinema. Apparently, we are all heading towards a state without identity, where we can’t tell whether we are Malaysians or not, and citizens turned on the country without batting an eyelid, and losing in everything except making the longest something to everyone else. To counter all these and more, simply stand up before watching… let us say Black Hawk Down… and sing the National Anthem!

Wonderful! Fantastic! Superb! Brilliant! No superlatives can describe this idea, which will manage to undo years of patriotic neglect in the souls of our beloved citizens and turn them into flag-carrying, world-dominating Malaysians. You will one day walk out of the cinema feeling very Malaysian, and very Boleh. You will jeer every time the screens show something unpatriotic, like loving an Indonesian, or working in Singapore. You will all rush every time Malaysians need another sea-conqueror, mountain-climber and roti-canai maker. Your name is the first in the list every time your company needs someone to march on National Day. You will sign 500,000 times every time Malaysia wants a petition to stop another war. You will stop criticizing the Government.

Please, if you cannot see sarcasm, then you are in the wrong place.

Let us look at the practical side of this. I watch a show at least once a week, so at the end of the month, I would have gotten my dose of the “patriotic” medicine 4 times – certainly more than what the doctor prescribed. But am I a better Malaysian than those who don’t go to the cinema at all? Does singing Negaraku forge a deeper love for my country? Would I jump at the chance to stop an invading army if I go through this regime?

On the other hand, would it further alienate the growing number of intelligent youths who can see past mere showpiece attempts? Today’s youths (and I guess they are the target audience of this campaign) are complicated, argumentative, independent, intelligent and most importantly, diverse in their train of thoughts as compared to generations before. This is the direct result of economic prosperity, education through the global media, and a generally less simple social environment. In other words, it would look foolish.

It’s simple enough for me to sit down here and say that this or that is stupid, foolish and anything else I’ve used before; but the truth of the matter is this is the perfect example of haphazard thinking. The true judge of an effective proposal is in its implementation. So far, it appears that no one is taking this idea seriously- not even the ministers. Almost everyone I interviewed (and that means 5 people-not exactly the perfect test group) say that it is stupid, incomprehensible, and foolish. I’m not against people putting up proposals, but when one consider that the government is an institution which we entrust to lead us, it is unacceptable that the best they could come up with is a proposal to play Negaraku before every show.

How do you judge patriotism anyway? Who decides? The more pressing issue is when every time someone raises objection against the government he is considered as unpatriotic. I love my country, and I definitely support the present government (for lack of better alternative perhaps?) but I do know that if I were to stand up in a public forum and question government policies I would be labeled as unpatriotic. Patriotism, in my understanding, means the love for your country. While it is true that to a certain extent the government, as a representation of the country and its people, deserve the outmost respect and patriotic spirit. But we must never forget that the country lives on, while government, at least theoretically, don’t. The people of that particular country are the one that shapes the nation, and if the people cannot raise its voice or decide in their right mind without being called unpatriotic, then something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Think before saying. Go figure.

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