Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Malaysian or Malay patriotism?


Patriotism phobia


If they really love the country, they should not have condemned patriotism expressed in a way different from what they used to know 

I once watched an old video of a group of old Chinese Indonesians singing their national anthem in Chinese in a solemn and spirited manner.

The video overwhelmed me because of two things:

Firstly, I was shocked to find that there is actually a Chinese version for Indonesia's national anthem. Of course, this version may not be officially endorsed or recognised.

Secondly, the older generation of Chinese Indonesians have remained loyal and patriotic despite unpleasant experiences they have gone through. Their love for the country has been so powerful and profound.

What I was trying to say is that if these people had not loved their country so much, would they even bother to write the Chinese lyrics for their national anthem and sing it in their most familiar mother tongue?

I have also watched another video of Canadians singing O Canada in 11 different languages, namely English, Inuktitut (Eskimo), Ukrainian, Mi'kmaq (an American Indian language), French, Punjabi, Mandarin, German, Cree (another American Indian language), Spanish and Italian.

Canada is a rare multicultural country in this world that boasts not just strong solidarity among people of different ethnic origins but also unparalleled cohesiveness and tolerance.

Here in Malaysia, the situation was totally different when a group of students from a Negeri Sembilan SJKC sang Negaraku in Mandarin in their classroom.

PPBM PRIBUMI Youth lodged a police report, demanding police investigation into the incident while social media users reprimanded the school authorities and students for smearing the national anthem and wanted the education ministry to take stern actions.

Some netizens even claimed this proved SJKCs were imparting Chinese chauvinism in schools and that such schools should be closed down and be replaced with mono-stream primary schools.

Sure enough it was PPBM PRIBUMI, the party which claims to fight for the rights of the Malays, which filed the police report, and the negative comments mostly came from Malay and some English language social media sites.

Unfortunately, these people failed to see that when the students were singing Negaraku in Mandarin, they were standing upright and singing with full passion and devotion.

These people also failed to tell whether there was any disparity in the Malay and Chinese lyrics and whether the Mandarin version had deviated in its meaning.

I believe when the students sang Negaraku in their own mother tongue, they would have a better understanding of the content and meaning of the song. This will subconsciously enhance their patriotism for the country.

Of course I maintain that the official Malay version of Negaraku must be used in all formal events and occasions such as weekly assemblies, award presentation ceremony at a sports meet, National Day, etc.

I nevertheless think that we can be a little more flexible in allowing students to sing the national anthem in a different language inside the classroom as a means of instilling patriotism among the students.

The question is whether the students will become more patriotic or less so by singing Negaraku in Mandarin.

I am sure this will boost the students' love and cohesiveness towards their country. Isn't this the intended objective of any national anthem?

I can imagine that the SJKC students and their teacher will now develop a “patriotism phobia” after the incident.

Isn't singing the national anthem an apt manifestation of a person's patriotism? If we look beyond the formality, singing the national anthem in a language other than the national language involves the expression of more passion and effort.

With the education ministry now probing the incident, it is likely for those involved to be called up by the police for interrogation. Should they be censured and punished for trying to express their love for this country in a way unacceptable to some?

How to make Malaysians more patriotic when we rigidly formalise the expression of patriotism?

Those who lodged the police report and harshly reprimanded the school only managed to see a rigorous doctrine that Negaraku can only be sung in Bahasa Malaysia and doing it otherwise is unpatriotic and a blatant act of disrespect for the national language.

Perhaps the incident has been exploited by these people as an excuse to cover up their intrinsic lack of self confidence.

If they really love the country, they should not have condemned patriotism expressed in a way different from what they used to know.

Only people who seriously lack self confidence will be reluctant to understand other people and respect other forms of expression.

True diversity and unity are established upon the basis that we embrace one another's differences in a more tolerant and accommodating manner so that this country will become more peaceful and harmonious.

1 comment:

  1. Star Spangled Banner in Multi-languages.