Minister: Merdeka’s original meaning lost on youth, but don’t stop loving country

People gather at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur during Merdeka Eve in conjunction with Malaysia’s 61st anniversary August 30, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Llatif
People gather at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur during Merdeka Eve in conjunction with Malaysia’s 61st anniversary August 30, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Llatif

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — The youth may not remember the significance of Merdeka or independence in the Malaysian federation’s component Malaya, but Malaysians should never stop loving their country, minister M. Kulasegaran said today.

Kulasegaran contrasted how Merdeka was viewed in the past for the fledgling nation — when it was freed from colonial rule but still tackling the Communist threat — and how it has now taken on a new meaning.

“In the past, what we prioritised was national security. If you see from 1957 to the 1980s — fighting against the Communists and so on; but Merdeka now has changed and there’s a new meaning, where many youths think that Merdeka is something ordinary.

“But we have to remember it’s not ordinary. We cannot give up our independence, our sovereignty, our love for the nation. And we have to let our youth know so they get involved in the celebrations,” the human resource minister said in an interview tonight with RTM that was broadcast “live” over Facebook.

Kulasegaran said the independence from British rule that then Malaya (now peninsular Malaysia) achieved 61 years ago was not obtained easily, but also highlighted the importance of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak coming together to form Malaysia.

“This year is the 61st year we have Merdeka, but with Sabah and Sarawak, we have a new hope, a new government.

“This is due to the contribution and support that was given by the public. Without their trust in and support for the new government, it would have been impossible for there to be a new government,” he said.

“This year, we will celebrate in Kota Kinabalu and we have paid a lot of attention so that the public will take part and fly the Jalur Gemilang,” he said.

Malaya achieved its independence on August 31, 1957.

Malaysia was formed on September 16, 1963 when Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak merged. This year’s celebrations for Malaysia Day will be held in Sabah’s capital Kota Kinabalu.

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