Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!
Today, it's our nation's golden jubilee. It was this day, 50 years ago, that we officially gained our independence from the British. It is a big thing and our government is celebrating it in a lavish way. Our celebrations has even made the news on BBC (here and here).
However, I asked myself this question today: Are we truly merdeka? I sought the meaning of the word. It's funny that the official definition of merdeka actually tells us that we are not at all free. According to Kamus Dewan:
"merdeka (merdéka) bebas (drpd penjajahan, kurungan, naungan, dll), lepas (drpd tebusan, tuntutan), berdiri sendiri, tidak bergantung pd yg lain: Malaysia ialah sebuah negara yg ~ dan berdaulat; besok ia jadi seorang awam yg ~ dan tidak lagi menjadi perajurit yg dikongkong oleh undang-undang dan disiplin; ~ ayam bebas sama sekali (boleh melakukan sesuatu sekehendak hati); akhbar ~ akhbar yg tidak terikat pd mana-mana parti politik; memerdekakan memberi kebebasan melepaskan drpd penjajahan (kurungan dll), membebaskan: India telah dimerdekakan pd bulan Ogos 1947; bagaimana dia boleh ~ dirinya drpd kapitalis-kapitalis kecil itu? kemerdekaan perihal merdeka (bebas), kebebasan: kita telah berjaya mencapai ~ pd 31 Ogos 1957; pemerdeka orang dll yg membebaskan drpd penjajahan (kurungan dll); merdeheka."It contrasts a free person against a perajurit (freedom fighter) who is under the suppression by law and disciplinary action. With the list of draconian laws that we have in our country, it is plenty obvious that we are not merdeka. We blame the fact that most of these laws are left-overs from the British times, but we have managed to improve them, by taking out checks and balances, and making them more potent.
It quotes an idiom: being free as a chicken, as being able to do anything that the heart desires. As recent events have shown, we are most certainly not free to profess the true beliefs of our hearts even though it is enshrined in our Constitution. Neither are we allowed to express our true heart-felt feelings in any creative way. We have less freedom than chickens!
It mentions free newspapers by defining akhbar merdeka as newspapers that are not tied to any political party. This is clearly not the case in Malaysia, where every single mainstream media, is owned by one political party or another. In fact, Media Prima, is one of the major media conglomerates in this world, and is linked to a major political party. It's list of companies include print media, television and radio stations.
Just looking at this, we can see that we are not free, which makes all the shouts of Merdeka by our politicians, a farce. As a Malaysian, I am sad to see that we are still entrapped and enslaved, after 50 years of nationhood. Let us all be truly merdeka, please! I would like to have my freedom, promised to my grandfather, half a century ago, please!
UPDATE+1: Read this article in TheEconomist about our sad state of affairs entitled: "Tall buildings, narrow minds: After 50 years, Malaysia should stop treating a third of its people as not-quite-citizens."