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Celebrating Malaysia Day from Far Away

By Chris Teh

Celebrating Malaysia Day in our country may be just another festivity but what about in the land Down Under? What started off as a dream of getting Malaysians from all walks of life based in Melbourne to “do something big” created an artistic social movement called ‘We the Rakyat.’

A research scientist at the University of Melbourne, Taiping-born 24-year-old Darren Lee Yeu Jyn who moved to Ipoh with his family at a very young age said that he came across a YouTube video of Singapore’s National Day Parade.

The ‘We the Rakyat’ founder opined, “Why not start something similar for a community close to my heart? I immediately thought of ‘Here in My Home’ originally performed by Pete Teo and Malaysian Artistes for Unity, while the music video was directed by the late Yasmin Ahmad. They were the inspiration for our ‘We the Rakyat’ music video.”

“‘Here in My Home’ channels the message about us (Malaysians) having each other’s backs and however far apart we may be in the world, we are eternally Malaysians at heart,” he expressed. “Hopefully, with this movement, Malaysia will continue to progress towards being a harmonious, prosperous and undivided society.”

Speaking on the concept behind the music video, Lee mentioned, “The beginning of the video depicts that despite our differences in beliefs and values, we are one”.

Having premiered on Facebook and YouTube on Malaysia Day, the music video for “We the Rakyat” starts with pairs of eyes and vocalizing of “I Am Malaysian” by various individuals. It continues to depict the different communities of Malaysian students and workers residing in Melbourne, as well as national athletes like track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang, swimmer Welson Sim and celebrities like Diana Chan, winner of competitive cooking game show Masterchef Australia.

“Hopefully, viewers are left with the feeling of nostalgia and acknowledgement of the diverse Malaysian identity in a globalised world,” he further expressed.

Ending with a brief speech from Mazita Marzuki, the Consul General of The Consulate General of Malaysia in Melbourne, who said in the video, “Let us all come together and embrace unity on this very special occasion. And let us all remember, no matter where we roam, we will always be Malaysians at heart”.

Expressing his gratitude, Lee said, “I am really grateful that this project garnered not only Mazita’s support but also from all Malaysians living in our motherland, Australia and other countries as well. I would also like to attribute this success to the creative and production team who made the filming of this video possible, also to my friends and family back in Ipoh for their endless support, not to mention teachers from my alma mater, St Michael’s Institution. Without them, this project could not have been realised. It’s high time to come together no matter where we may be”.

Elaborating on hardships faced along the process, Lee elaborated, “From creation to realisation, we had to be thoughtful and considerate in working on this multi-layered project. It wasn’t easy because some of the videographers and music producers involved are either still pursuing their studies or juggling multiple jobs at a time”.

“Conceptualising and gathering singers to booking recording studios and performing spaces to film the music video were all done within a month. Our zero-budget added further to the challenge. Despite these elements, these passionate individuals who strive to deliver an important message via ‘We the Rakyat’ made this project come to life,” he expressed.

Asked on what he misses most about Ipoh, Lee mentioned in an interview via WhatsApp, “I definitely miss my family, the food and the Canning Garden market! Since I started my life and career in Melbourne after finishing my studies, I haven’t had an opportunity to have meals with my family and lepak (hang out) with my friends to have a nice cup of Ipoh’s white coffee. However, I’m looking forward to my next trip back to Ipoh, hopefully, this coming Chinese New Year”.

Speaking on his future plans about ‘We the Rakyat’, he said that the music video is just a start of something new and the best is yet to come.

“We hope everyone will look forward to a music video next year which will be done on a bigger scale and features more collaborations!” Lee mentioned. “Moving on, we are seeking sponsorship or further support from our local government”.

“I’m in the midst of extending my stay in Melbourne but no one knows what may happen. I’m sure that wherever I may roam in the future, ‘We the Rakyat’ will continue to grow to unite Malaysians from all walks of life over the years and all of this would only be made possible with the support of all Malaysians!” he expressed.

To view the video on YouTube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaOdFexJs0I. Interested readers or parties who wish to support or contribute to ‘We the Rakyat’ may contact Lee via email at wetherakyatmalaysia@gmail.com.

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Chris Teh

Born and bred in Ipoh, Chris Teh is proficient in Chinese, English and Malay, with the Japanese language in the making. Joining Ipoh Echo has helped utilise his writing and translation skills. In his spare time, he catches Pokemon in Pokemon GO, discovering up and coming places on the side.

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