"Tanggal 31... bulan 8, '57... Malaysia Merdeka, Malaysia Merdeka"... the song that is synonym to the Merdeka month.
Despite this rather patriotic & joyful song which goes into my head each time this Merdeka month, however, I can feel that the mood this year is quite different.
This year does seem a quiet/ quieter Merdeka for all Malaysians. Maybe we can't compare with last year's 'peak' of all Merdeka celebrations, where the nation's celebrated its 50th birthday... But even comparing it with previous years, this year's Merdeka seem a far cry from the usual.
I remember clearly when in school, Merdeka month is a month that I look forward to every year. I love seeing the flags on the streets. There is an air of joy, a sense of pride and a big dose of happiness.
The flags would cover the streets & its buildings. It felt that the shops were outdoing each other, trying to hang the Malaysian flags (sometimes the state flags too) to get attention of the passerby. Colours of blue, red, yellow & white were everywhere.
I'm wondering if I'm just imagining or is it really true... it could be that I was younger then, and being in school or during the teenage years, everything seem merrier, including Merdeka. Ie. the mood didn't change, but it's just me growing up?
But the more I think, I get the feeling that although growing up do change the outlook somewhat, however, the Merdeka mood really is quite different today.
And my guess is that Malaysians have many things going through their minds today... which are far from the celebrations.
Yes, Malaysia has gone through a lot the past months - just see the daily headlines and we can understand the 'bruises' the country have been facing, what more the people.
Well, one can say that it's not just us in Malaysia, as even our Asean neighbours are facing their internal problems... And even the 'cool-er' North Asian countries or Western counterparts are also having problems, many related to the current economic slowdown.
But, whatever reasons it is, it is with a heavy heart that the nation is not fully rejoicing whilst it goes past beyond 50 (I say not fully because there are still some/ many who look forward to Malaysia's Independence Day).
So while I still strive on my last year's wish for united & supportive Malaysians for all things Malaysia, my this year hope is for us to go back to the very basics of what makes us, Malaysia & Malaysians.
Comparatively, we have come a long long way, despite all the challenges being such a unique nation we are. Truly, it is admirable for a small & very diverse nation like ours.
So, moving forward, it's really for us (everyone including leaders, government, private & the people) to at least continue with the success formula we've been using to move ahead, doing the best we can with full pride & joy.
There are many factors in this success formula, and it may take some time for us to reflect. But, deep down, we will know the answers.
Finally, to all Malaysians, Selamat Hari Merdeka (Happy National Day!)... and I say this with full pride. Malaysia Merdeka... Malaysia Merdeka... !