Malaysia Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


Sharpened Word collaborated with Sama Sama for a month of exciting activities in conjunction with Independence Day.

Themed ‘Malaysia Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’, participants were given five to seven minutes to share their stories at the Perak State Library, on Sunday, August 26.

Clad in a saree, with a sarong draped over her right shoulder and a traditional Chinese fan,

Louisa Loh presented “Preserve Reserve”. In a 5-minute sharing, Loh expressed her gratitude for the cultural crossover in Malaysia. However, she also revealed her disappointment over the lack of appreciation for traditional Chinese opera.

“When I went to watch a Chinese opera at my hometown in Batu Gajah, I saw a few senior citizens, from Teluk Intan, and Cameron Highlands who had travelled all the way just to watch a good opera,” she said.

“It’s sad that good operas are so hard to come by, and they have to travel the distance just to watch it,” she added. “I vividly remember going to operas as a child, for the food, of course,” she laughs.

“The sugar cane candies I used to love, are now nothing but memories. It is time we wake up and learn how to appreciate our culture. Let us keep the culture alive,” she finished.

Jaspal Singh, former journalist, shared his father’s story. He explained that as a journalist, he has done countless interviews.

“This interview with my 86-year-old father Pratap Singh, however, was the hardest interview I have ever done. It took me almost three hours, because he was forgetting a lot of stuff and there were emotions coming in,” Jaspal added.

Pratap Singh, was 25 years old when he was a driver with the army transport company.

In July, Pratap received orders to go to Kuala Lumpur to help with the first Merdeka Day preparation. On August 31, Pratap arrived at the Merdeka stadium at 4am. An hour later, he and his colleague were assigned to be at the gate through which VIPs would enter.

Pratap recalls representatives from Burma, Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka) and Pakistan being present.

“From where I (Pratap) was standing, I could hear chants of ‘Merdeka’ even before Tunku could utter the word. I distinctly remember Tunku’s voice reading the proclamation of Independence, after which chants of ‘Merdeka’ filled the atmosphere – not in the air, but in me.”

His voice breaking, Jaspal continued, quoting his father.

“After the chants ended, the Negaraku was played. I (Pratap) cannot put into words how it felt to witness the birth of a nation.”

“When I think of Merdeka, I cannot think of what it means to me. Most of us are post-Merdeka children, but this guy (my father) knows it, because he was there,” said Jaspal.

“I’m still trying to figure out what Merdeka means to me. I’m still trying to figure out what I can do for this country,” he finished.

What does Merdeka mean to you?

Loshni Nair

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