Music. Sports. Concerts. National Service. These are but some of the factors that unite our teenagers. ANITA ANANDARAJAH writes.
INDEPENDENCE was fought for with a passion to create a future for the young, free from foreign rule. Almost five decades down the road and two generations later, today's teens celebrate the events of past years. While they have no inkling of the significance Merdeka held for their parents and grandparents, they do know that freedom is a precious commodity and will continue to celebrate it.
* Funky freedom
Nothing spells freedom like a rock concert. And what better place to host big-name concerts over the past year but Stadium Merdeka. Tickets were snapped up for the Linkin Park, Ah Mei, Alan Tam and Hacken Lee, Mariah Carey and Incubus concerts. At the recent Hoobastank concert in Bukit Kiara, KL, thousands of people head banged and screamed to their hearts' content, and the riot police were nowhere in sight.
Don't forget the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak in July, which attracted more than 10,000 people and musicians from India, Zimbabwe, Japan, Britain, Brazil, Italy, New Zealand and Indonesia. It signified freedom to perform across borders. Of course there are still restrictions, like no ciggie-sponsored events , but you know what? We still have concerts. We can (almost) wear anything we want. We can walk around in the dead of the night and more often than not, we'll be fine.
* Servicing nationals Then there was National Service, a mega-project by the Ministry of Defence to instil national pride in 85,000 18-year-olds. After many an SMS and scouring of dailies to check whether they had been recruited, married women, teens, single mothers and mechanics came together to prove that it was possible for different races to work together. However, despite free rent and food for three months, 4,269 failed to show up. But for the more than 80,000 who did make it to the 42 camps across the country, it was an experience to cherish. Teething problems of inefficient bus services at pick-up points, poor food quality and incomplete campsites aside, many shed tears on the last day of camp as they returned to their homes.
* Striking gold
Watching our athletes battling it out in the international sports arena is a surefire way to bring a nation together. The Vietnam SEA Games in December saw Malaysia bringing home 44 golds, a feat made possible by young stars like Durratun Nashihin Rosli, who reaped three golds in rhythmic gymnastics, and Lim Keng Liat, also three golds for swimming.
Thanks to a sound economy and generous sponsors, today's Olympics team members were assured tickets, sponsored uniforms and accommodation at the Games venue in Athens, a far cry from Malaya's first Olympics foray in Melbourne in 1956. Back then, our athletes had to raise funds for their own tickets and sports equipment.
* Examining education Let's take a look at exams. In the 1940s, many young people's education was disrupted when the Japanese invaded Malaya. Young people were forced to work to support their families. Education was a luxury.
Last year, 6,500 students scored straight As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, almost double the number of the previous year. Today, some schools can produce 95 per cent pass rates, and scholarships abound for students who demonstrate well-rounded abilities.
True, there are still niggling queries about meritocracy and entry into local universities, but opportunities in vocational schools and private colleges are aplenty.
* Uniting through song
The strongest force to unite Malaysians across the board may arguably be reality shows Akademi Fantasia and Malaysian Idol. The former just completed its second season. Twelve singers in AF were selected from thousands of hopefuls and made to live in one bungalow over 10 weeks, There, they were taught to fine-tune their singing and presentation skills. The selection rounds across the country for Malaysian Idol demonstrated one thing: that Malaysians, meanwhile, were united through music. The true magic about reality shows is its pull on all Malaysians. Message boards, chat rooms and mamak stall conversations were dominated by "But he can't sing." As a show of solidarity, 2.65 million SMSes were sent out on the final day, to vote for the favourite contestant (first place winner 23-year-old Zahid Baharuddin who secured 28 per cent of the votes).
* Standing out
Independent movies have been making their mark slowly but surely, and the past couple of years have seen some of the more controversial ones coming out of the closet, like Osman Ali's Bukak Api and Malaikat di Jendela. These movies, which touch on taboo issues such as transsexualism, prostitution and gay relationships, have been playing to full houses at private screenings.
New Strait Times 31st August 2004
Have we gain independence yet? One question that I used to ponder whenever 31st August came every year…..
One definition of the word independence that I got from the dictionary was “Freedom from control or influence of another or others”…have we achieved that?
To be frank, I think we have not gain our independence yet…true is that 47 years ago, we being liberated from the British but is that we called being independent is? Have we gained the ultimate freedom and are there any forces that haven’t influence us all?
We say we are independent but then our ultimate life dream is just to become as rich as possible and to gain as much money and property as possible.
We say we are independent but then we tend to follow our own desires to some extent cross the barrier of our own religion. We used to watch “Akademi Fantasia, Malaysian Idol” and spend time yet money going to concert. We say we are independent but always in our heart praise so high the Western society. We follow their steps and proudly told others that we have civilized…
We say we are independent but then we used to value all matters by money and how those matters can bring us benefit in this world.
We say we are independent but then …. The list goes on…
We say we are independent but have not we realized that we have been controlled by materialism, our own emotion and the greatest of all…we have been invaded by our own desire…
So what independence meant actually?
The ultimate independence for one human being that can be achieved is to become the true servant of the Almighty God, The Most Merciful, and The Most Powerful Allah. For weakling human to become independent in actual sense is to respect and become the servant of His Creator. That is the ultimate freedom that we can gain as only The Creator know what is best for His Creations. Yet there are so many become too ignorant and remember not that he was and is the creation of The Creator.