Quit the wishy-washy themes | Selangor Times
Issue 118


Quit the wishy-washy themes
Writer: Patrick Teoh
Published: Fri, 31 Aug 2012

few weeks ago my daughter who lives in Singapore sent me the link to a Singapore National Day promo video. 

It was a simple video of mostly young people telling about what they would like to see Singapore become. What their aspirations for their country are. What and how they hoped to contribute to their country’s continued success. 

To an old cynical codger like me it was nothing new. Just another piece of clever propaganda by a marketing-savvy government.  

When I watched the video for a second time it struck me how different the approaches were. I mean, that of ours and the Singapore government. 

They seemed to have the people’s contributions at the top of the marketing media message. Sort of like “Ya! We are successful because YOU made it happen. Thank you”.

From as far back as 1984 National Day themes in Singapore have put the people first. For example, 1984 – 25 years of Nation Building, 1990 – One People, One Nation, One Singapore, 2000-2001 – Together We Make The Difference to this year’s theme “Loving Singapore. Our Home”. 

Don’t get me wrong. I am not wishing or wanting to be Singaporean so don’t send me hate mail and ask me to emigrate. Or “Balik tongsan”. I am just trying to make a point. 

What makes a strong, united and progressive nation? It’s the people. It’s US. Not them. Not the government. The government is merely elected by us to manage and steer the way towards a destination or goal. A goal that is set by our (the rakyat’s) aspirations. 

Simple isn’t it? So how come over here in Malaysia our Merdeka Day themes almost never mention the people’s contributions? Or worse, never say anything that makes sense. Take a look.

1984 – Amanah Asas Kejayaan  (Honesty Brings Success)

1990 – Kejayaan (Success)

2000-2006 Keranamu Malaysia (Because of You Malaysia)

And perhaps the lamest theme of them all. This year’s “55 Tahun Merdeka: Janji Ditepati (55 years of Independence: Promises Fulfilled).

Where are we, the rakyat Malaysia in all these wishy-washy Merdeka Day themes? Honesty Brings Success? Whose honesty are we talking about? Were we being asked to be honest? Or was it meant for them? I think we should have felt insulted had it been the former. Success? What does that mean? That we have achieved something? What? I didn’t know back in 1990. And I still don’t know what it means now. From 2000 to 2006 it was “Because Of You Malaysia”? 

I think during that period the flers who coined the slogan shot themselves in the foot. When a lot of Malaysians were thinking, “What the hell is happening to our country?”, the government comes out and tells us it’s “Because of You Malaysia”. It’s our fault. 

And it’s always them telling us that it is our fault. Telling us what to do, isn’t it? 

This morning I read in the newspaper about events organised this year to promote patriotism. Again we are told to do something. Come out and wave some flags. Come out and attend this event we have organised for you. Do your duty as a loyal, patriotic citizen. 

Hello! I think we as loyal citizens of our home country have done lots and continue to do without having to be told and be blamed when things go belly up. 

I think it is the leaders who should be told by us to promote patriotism and not the other way around. Stop telling us , reminding us, convincing us that we are Malay, Chinese, Indians, Kadazan, Dusun and whatever else you try to dig out of the racism basket. 

Can ah? Osso ah…can you all stop telling us how wonderful we are doing and what a wonderful life we are having when we have to tighten our belts while you go around playing Santa Claus with our money. 

And I think we are really getting very tired of this “We are better than (insert countries currently in the outhouse for whatever reasons) load of bovine excrement. Europe and the USA seem to be the current favorite examples. Remember how proud we were last time when we were better than Ghana? Then it was some other African country. 

And now our leaders seem to have struck the jackpot. Europe and USA. Ah see…even the orang puteh flers also not as good as us liao. 

Somehow I don’t think that even the pak cik chewing on his last grain of nasi will take much comfort from that.

Today is our 55th Merdeka Day. And we are incessantly being told to do this and that. For them. Be grateful. Because the Janji has been Ditepati. 

Where are we in all this? I’ll tell you where. We’re milling around their feet picking up crumbs. That’s where. And it’s our fault too. 

Happy Merdeka Day.


 Selangor Times



Also by Patrick Teoh:

It has to be bleep, bleep and bleep!

When I first coined the word “Niamah!” a lot of people asked me what it meant. Well, for those of you who don’t speak Cantonese, when spoken aloud the word means your mom.

Malaysia a safe country: The spinning goes on

The morning newspaper had on the front page a story about security in housing estates. How foreign guards are better than local ones. How illegal foreigners are getting jobs as security guards. How if we pay peanuts we get monkeys as security for our family and property.

Those damn illegal parkers

By the time you sit down to read this, the memories of Bersih 3.0 would be more than two weeks old. But I’ll bet that people will still be talking about the rally. Exchanging experiences. Telling some tall tales.

Transforming to what?

Just a few days ago I was driving past the Umno building in Kuala Lumpur. It was raining and the infamous bottle-neck traffic jam in that area of the city was worse than normal. I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic right beside the Umno building.

Absurd cost of … everything

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Along with the perennial, prerequisite hoo-hah that accompanies it.

End of the world?

In just a couple more weeks the Year of the Dragon is going to roll in. For the Chinese flers it is always an extra-auspicious period of the Chinese Lunar calendar. So what we can expect this Chinese New Year is an even more garish display of the colours gold and red in the shopping malls. Actually, the incessant Chinese New Year musak is already playing endlessly. Petaling Street vendors are going to drag on their sales of made-in-China new year “must-haves” until the last minute of the 15th day of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon.

Your right, my right, and all the ‘goreng’

In just a couple of weeks it will be the new year. Yes, 2012. Another year. But as with every new year for the past decade, I would say we Malaysians step rather tentatively into the next 365-day period.

Time to take the wheel

For a very long time now there has been almost complete anarchy on Malaysian roads. There appear to be no laws governing traffic, nor does there appear to be anyone bothered to obey them if there were. I am sure you see, as I do, on a daily basis motorcycles and motorcars ignoring red lights, double lines and stop signs.

Come on, get happy!

The past couple of weeks has been sort of tough. On the old brain I mean. Mine. Having to remember lines from a script that is not exactly Shakespearean quality and having to say them while moving around without knocking into the furniture on stage. Things were so stressful that I missed the big event of the month: the announcement of the Budget by the prime minister!

Manifestoes un-manifest

Last month I attended a fundraising dinner for a political party. For an opposition party la. When have we ever heard of the ruling coalition ever needing to organise a FUND-raising party? No, right? No need what. Fund-giving got la. Especially near elections time. But I digress.

Conditional love…?

JUST a few days ago a friend of mine sent me a Tweet message in which she referred to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as our Conditional Prime Minister. I laughed out loud when I received that. What a wonderfully apt description of the man, I thought.

The Great Clean-Up

For the past week or more the whole of the Klang Valley has been quavering with excitement, fear, anger, frustration and maybe a little despair.People have been arrested. Threats have been issued by both government and normally level-headed Malaysians. Balai Polis stores are bulging at the seams from overstocking of bright yellow t-shirts which everybody wants but cannot have. After all they’re perfectly good shirts. 100% cotton some more.

Harsh realities of this flawed paradise

As we turn the corner and head for the second half of 2011, things sure ain’t looking that hunky-dory. My family and I enjoyed a few days in the remote beaches of Cherating, Pahang. Those four carefree days of rushing waves and gentle breezes and oh-so-calming peace and quiet were elixirs for the much-stressed average Malaysian soul.

Who copied who?

By the time you read this the good folks in the little red dot, Singapore, would have been to the polls and either a) elected the almost all-powerful PAP again as their government of choice, or b) elected a much younger, more change-oriented government from one of the opposition parties like The Workers Party or the Singapore Democratic Party.

He who laughs last…

As I sit down to write this a lot of funny things are happening in my country. Sex scandals. Snap elections threats. Detailed explanations of when a Bribe is not a Bribe but a Gift.











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