Tuai Rumah in KL
The trip to Kuala Lumpur last Merdeka was not a small family affair kind of event. It was a whole family event. My parents, uncles, aunties - the whole lot. So while I was working, they get to sample Kuala Lumpur and witnessed how Merdeka is celebrated in the Big City. This 50th Anniversary especially for Malaysia's Merdeka celebration, my Uncle Richard and my Uncle Solomon decided to join the big crowd at the Dataran Merdeka. For them, it was a once in a life time event and my mum had asked me to share their experience in my blog - with some of the pictures my Uncle took, so here are some of them:
Uncle Richard with the Merdeka Crowd
So in mingling his account of the event and also of Malaysia's Merdeka Celebration I would share his pride in being here as he has just reached 50 years of age this June 2007. So I am sure he relates with the idea that Malaysia is 50 years old. While some quarters insist we are 44, since Sarawak achieved Independence when it together with Malaya, Sabah and Singapore formed Malaysia on 16th September 1963, it is certainly not up to my level to debate. As a Sarawakian, I would like it to say '44' as the date of formation. We should not go change the history of the country we love so much. Anyway, its good to see that we Sarawakians are a 'tolerant' lot. However, if relevant documents were to be produced in the World Court of Justice (the way we fought hard for Sabah's Sipadan Island by producing age old documenst for proof) I am sure the number '44' would come to mind to any intelligent Malaysians. No I am not trying to be fickle minded about the whole thing. Our West Malaysian brothers must know that we had our own 'Cobbold Commission' in the 1960s with which we agreed to form a merger in the name of Malaysia and those efforts and struggle need to be acknowledged in Malaysia's Independence History. But hey, do you see any National Dailies putting that on the headlines? When TV3 aired the news about Malaysia Day, I could count it was only for a few minutes. Please lah.... (sounding very Malaysian) we would not want to link our Independence with 'protests' against the Malayan Union with which we had no part and no recollection at all. Yes, that can be part of the Malayan Federation's proud moments - lest that Sarawakians forget, we have our proud moments too. In the journey of forming Malaysia we had to endure the Indonesian Confrontation, and also there was the Brunei Revolt. Sabah too, had to endure the Philippines' claim. Then came the Communist insurgency - and blood and tears were shed during Malaysia's formation. My late grandad was once threatened by a communist terrorist's shotgun when they took rice and supplies from his longhouse. My dad risked his life when he was part of a team that was carrying ballot boxes in the State Elections during the Emergency of the 70s when the communist terrorists were trying to disrupt the election process. At that time election teams were not immune to ambushes. In short - Sarawakians sacrificed a lot too, which makes it kind of wierd when we see this clip of Tunku shouting 'Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka..." on 31 August 1957. Try as I may, I just can't connect with it, except that I salute Tunku and Singapore's Lee for promoting the 'Malaysia' idea and I am proud to be Malaysian. Argue as we may, if there was a time machine that brought us to the Kuching Waterfront - back 50 years ago from today in Sarawak, one would still see the Union Jack flying on this land and our allegiance at that time was to the Empire of Great Britain.
Anyway back to my Uncle's account to his experience at the Merdeka Parade. Most of the photos he did manage to take were like the ones above. The crowd turnout was massive. I do not know how those without the advantage of height would be able to enjoy the parade but I guess being able to be part of the Merdeka crowd is an experience by itself.
Finally when all had ended - Uncle Solomon was able to pose at the place where the 'action' took place. They could not get the best pose for their Merdeka memories so an empty stage would do just fine to remeber that day
The VVIP seats after the end of the Parade was accessible to those who wish to 'feel' VVIPish - including this black burung gagak. I guess, while sharing a drink or two with my Uncles, it is trying to make small talk relating to the event 'Hey, it was a great show ah... I saw those Russian Big Birds flying...... ?"
Yeap - I guess the bird and my Uncle are good friends now. They shared the experience of the historic moment stamped in time this year on 31 August 2007. I believe I was somewhere in the Putra World trade Centre manning Sarawak's booth and showcasing Sarawak's history. That evening I asked my Uncle how it feels to witness those million dollar jets flying and million dollar war tanks rumbling at the Parade and the idea of 50 Years. Being a Tuai Rumah (Headman) I guess his thoughts were for the longhouse folks with which he is responsible for. His reply was "It does not feel 50 Years. Our longhouse is still without road access, communication access, electric supply and water supply". I guess I know where the answer was coming from. He grew up there and I have to 'process' his point of view as he was comparing life in the longhouse and the modern amenities in the Big City.
Life in the longhouse - do they know its 50 years?
After some rethinking - I have to agree with my Uncle. 50 Years or 44 Years, it does not make any difference to some people if they have not experienced the fruits of the Merdeka cake, especially to those in the remote areas - the tempo of development there is slow and negligible - so let's not get carried away with that '50 - 44' argument. To our political masters, policy makers and administrators, I would say lets spend more time delivering those development packages to where it matters most. But its intesteing to read some people's feedback at The Earth Inc.
What's important is we live in harmony, and the federal gov gives us Sarawakians a chance to develop.