By Shanika Abdullatib
This article is in conjunction with Malaysia’s 63rd National Day celebrations on Aug 31.
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – On Monday, Malaysia celebrates its 63rd National Day and conspicuously missing this year are the parade and other events held annually to celebrate the nation’s freedom from colonial rule.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to adhere to physical distancing rules, this year’s parade has been pre-recorded separately for each contingent participating in the procession in order to reduce mass public gatherings.
The recorded event will be telecast on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) in the morning on Aug 31.
Nevertheless, the National Day parade under the new norms is deemed extraordinary because, in spite of the limitations and challenges, Malaysians have come forward to celebrate their nation’s sovereignty.
Commenting on National Day 2020, holder of Universiti Teknologi Mara's Chair of Institution of Malay Rulers Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Zainal Kling said the physical limitations should not take away the excitement of this year’s celebrations, themed ‘Malaysia Cares’.
“Even though the events have been scaled down, the spirit of wanting to celebrate our National Day still remains strong. It proves that our government and society appreciate the meaningful struggle for freedom,” he told Bernama, adding that the nation is now engaged in anther struggle – to free the nation from the COVID-19 menace.
Zainal said appreciation for the nation’s independence can be depicted in ways other than physical gatherings.
“Even with the (physical) limitations, technology and social media provide a vast space for Malaysians to express their love for their country.
“A lot of short videos have been uploaded by the younger generation expressing their gratitude for the freedom they enjoy now. I believe if all these recordings are telecast on television on the night preceding National Day, the celebrations will certainly be more joyous,” he said.
The important thing here is to appreciate any small effort made by the younger generation to express their love for the nation, said Zainal.
“Hateful sentiments won’t arise because the small efforts taken by this generation will make them feel they are a part of the nation’s independence which they must uphold,” he said.
This year’s National Day celebrations, added Zainal, is not only about the nation’s founding leaders who struggled for independence but also about today’s generation who has been working tirelessly to help the nation cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sharing his views, cultural activist and founder of cultural organisation Pusaka, Eddin Khoo, said the true spirit of love for one’s homeland is expressed when one acknowledges how complex the nation is.
“When we acknowledge that our nation is complex, hard to understand and has a deep history, that’s when our sense of patriotism is at its strongest.
“Going through this complexity is the true way to go deeper into the history of this nation and society in the quest for and maintaining the independence we’ve enjoyed all this while,” he said.
Stressing that the spirit of unity is not something that is only reserved for National Day, Khoo said cultural understanding must be fostered every single day which, he added, is not impossible because the basis of unity is already planted firmly in the hearts of Malaysians.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic has proven that we Malaysians are indeed united,” he added.
This year’s logo for National Day depicts the words ‘Malaysia’ and ‘Prihatin’ to illustrate that Malaysians are working together to fight the pandemic. It also reflects the government’s caring nature in prioritising the welfare of the people as shown through its Prihatin (economic stimulus package) initiative.
The heart-shaped logo, with the colours of the Jalur Gemilang flag in the background, symbolises the government's concern for the multiracial communities of this country. Incidentally, the heart-shaped logo was also used in 1994, 1997, 2015 and 2016.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysian National News Agency
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