Merdeka spirit strong this year

KUALA LUMPUR, 25 Aug 2017:

Next week, the nation celebrates National Day – a day after the closing ceremony of the ongoing KL SEA Games.

The patriotic spirit is evidently in the air, what with the Jalur Gemilang flying proudly at shopping complexes, public places and commercial premises and Malaysian athletes hauling in the gold medals.

KL Sentral, here, a transit hub and shopping centre that is perpetually crowded, has the Malaysian flag and SEA Games photographs adorning all its entry points and at every nook and cranny.

At the mass rapid transit (MRT) station next to the historic Stadium Merdeka, here, the permanent mural featuring the silhouette of first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra – with his hand raised whilst proclaiming Malaya’s independence on 31 Aug 1957 – becomes all the more compelling for the multitude of MRT users as National Day approaches.

And, emblazoned on one of the station’s walls are the five principles of the Rukunegara.

“We know the wall (with the mural) is going to be very popular among commuters once the station is open. I am pretty sure it is going to be a hit. Every Malaysian will go there and they will spend time taking selfies and wefies on that wall,” said MRT strategic communication and stakeholder relations director Datuk Najmuddin Abdullah.

The launch of the 1Malaysia Negaraku (1Malaysia MyCountry) icon by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib  Razak on Wednesday for this year’s National Day celebrations has also helped to augment the spirit of unity espoused by the “One Heart, One Soul” theme.

The new icon, a combination of the existing “1Malaysia” and “Negaraku” icons, features the Jalur Gemilang wrapped around the numeral “1”, with the word “Negaraku” depicted below.

The 1Malaysia Negaraku concept is expected to spur national unity and strengthen the people’s commitment to coexist in peace and harmony.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd or Petronas is known for its meaningful National Day advertisements that tend to touch the hearts and minds of Malaysians.

This year’s advertisement featuring a short film titled, “Thomas Cup Park” is no different. It depicts the tale of five friends who are competing on the badminton court with two badminton legends Rashid Sidek and Foo Kok Keong.

Meanwhile, the ongoing “Kembara Merdeka Negaraku 2017” programme organised by the Information Department is also doing its part to revive the spirit of patriotism and loyalty, particularly among the younger generation.

The expedition, involving 107 participants travelling all over the peninsula in a convoy of 30 high-powered motorcycles and 18 four-wheel drive vehicles, started on Aug 13 and will end in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 28.

Expedition chief Ariah Judah said the participants were happy to be part of such a convoy and be able to meet local communities and hand over Malaysian flags to them.

When it comes to expressing one’s patriotic spirit, there “ain’t no mountain high enough”, as in the case of the nine Malaysian mountaineers who left for Skardu in Pakistan on Aug 22 to scale the K2 and Gondorogo-La peaks.

Dubbed “XPDC Merdeka Day”, their 17-day expedition is being held in conjunction with this year’s National Day celebrations.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall, meanwhile, has distributed 55,000 Jalur Gemilang of various sizes to government agencies, the private sector and members of the public to boost the patriotic mood.

 Mayor Datuk Seri Mohd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz said the initiative was aimed at instilling into the people a sense of love for their country.

“In countries like the United States and Indonesia, the people are proud of their respective nation’s independence and will take the initiative to fly their flags at their premises.

“We want our people to possess the same patriotic spirit. Furthermore, the responsibility to embody the One Heart, One Soul concept should start at home.”

Teacher Haslina Abdul Rahman, 40, said the love she feels for her homeland is forever embedded in her, unlike some others whose love for their country only emerges when the month of August appears.

However, she is of the opinion that not flying the Malaysian flag did not make a person less patriotic.

“Of course, I know the national flag symbolises patriotism but it doesn’t mean that people are only patriotic if they raise the Jalur Gemilang (at their premises). There are people who fly the flag just because it’s the trend to do so during the Merdeka month,” said Johor-born Haslina.

Her friend Hafizah Ismail, 40, who is an executive with a private firm and is from Kuantan, said although not all Malaysians were flying the Jalur Gemilang, it did not mean that they do not have patriotic feelings.

She felt that schools play a big role in sowing the seeds of love and loyalty for one’s country in schoolchildren.

 “When one is truly patriotic, just singing or listening to (our national anthem) Negaraku can make one get goosebumps.”

She believed that most Malaysians possess the patriotic spirit as it had been instilled into them since childhood.

“Whenever something happens in relation to our country, it touches our hearts due to our love for our country,” she said, adding that it was most appropriate to hold the SEA Games in August as it has helped to add momentum to the National Day celebrations.

– Bernama

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