How Malaysians abroad celebrate Merdeka

Jes, holding the Jalur Gemilang, leads a group of skate boarders downhill. ― Malay Mail pic
Jes, holding the Jalur Gemilang, leads a group of skate boarders downhill. ― Malay Mail pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 ― It has been 60 years since Malaysia achieved independence.

Today, Malaysians who have traversed the oceans and settled abroad are equally as ecstatic as those here celebrating Merdeka.

Malay Mail takes a look at how Malaysians celebrate Merdeka across the globe.

Eileen Chong, 33

Now based in Abu Dhabi in the UAE, Eileen celebrated Merdeka with her friends a little earlier, on August 25, with a meal at La Terrazza restaurant at Hilton Corniche.

“There’s a Malaysian Food Fest running in that restaurant from August 25 until Merdeka day, where the chef is from Sarawak. I also did a Merdeka quiz with some of my friends, and uploaded it on my YouTube channel, EileenVlog.”

Her video showed her quizzing eight of her friends in the restaurant, some of whom had migrated many years ago.

The questions included: How many years of independence are we celebrating this year? How many years was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad the prime minister? Identify what is on the back of each ringgit note?

“We had a Malaysian flag in the buffet area in the restaurant for the whole week,” Eileen said.

Ashwini Sivanantham, 29

Currently residing in Perth, Australia, she talked about how she used to celebrate Merdeka in her alma mater, Curtin University, with her fellow Malaysians.

“Usually, the Merdeka celebration is quite big every year. The university’s Malaysian association has performances, and there’ll be Malaysian food. We sang patriotic songs and raised the flag.”

“But now that I’m working, and most of my friends have returned to KL, we’re celebrating on a much smaller scale. Yesterday, two of my friends came over, and we made our own nasi lemak, and fried spiced chicken,” said Ashwini.

She is filled with excitement with Malaysia turning 60, though she does feel a tinge of sadness on what she is missing out at home.

Lavinia Rajaram, 38

Having settled in Singapore for six and a half years, Lavinia said the Malaysian High Commission would usually host a post-Merdeka celebration sometime after August 31.

This is simply because the High Commission of Malaysia in Singapore is closed on Merdeka day.

Lavinia makes it a point to bring out her Malaysian flag every August and place it on a special stand in her apartment, to honour and celebrate our independence.

Ian Lam Wheng-Jit, 29

Presently residing in Ontario, Canada, Ian wasn’t able to celebrate Merdeka grandly given that most of his fellow Malaysian students from university were not around.

“It is a regular work day in Canada, so I don’t think I’ll be doing anything special, though I wish I could,” he said, expressing his bittersweet emotions of not being home to celebrate his nation’s 60th birthday, and not being able to celebrate it with other Malaysians as the Malaysian High Commission is a three-hour drive away.

However, he does fondly remember the “good old days” of celebrating Merdeka with his fellow Malaysians in his university.

Jes Muhammad Izaidin Jes Izman, 28

Unlike any other Malaysian living abroad, Jes would be spending Merdeka in the most unique way one could imagine.

“I will be in training and preparing for a downhill skateboard race from September 1-3,” the university student who resides in Washington said.

“Every year for the last seven years, before the race, I take a run down the track with the Malaysian flag. It has sort of become a ritual for me,” said Jes.

While he usually carries the flag as he skates downhill during training every August, he has a design which he is currently working on with the flag as a motif.

“I’m just waiting to get the right artist to help me get the graphic on my board, and I’ll probably be skating on a Jalur Gemilang designed board for Malaysia’s 61st Merdeka.”

Wherever they are, even if there aren’t many other Malaysians around, every Malaysian is not afraid or ashamed to stand tall to wave the Jalur Gemilang and proclaim: Saya anak Malaysia.

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