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What Does It Mean to be Malaysian?

What does it mean to be Malaysian? On Malaysia Day 2021, our PLF staff, Mohammad Faridzuan Abd Rahman, reflects on this question. Read his heartwarming article below and share your thoughts with us. Selamat Hari Malaysia 2021.

It’s the year 2021 and today our country, Malaysia, is 58 years old, with 64 years of independence under her belt. Most of us living today in Malaysia are lucky to have known only peace and freedom, thanks to our ancestors and the early leaders of the nation who fought for our right to govern ourselves.

But what does it mean to be Malaysian? Being born in this country to Malaysian parents (or a Malaysian parent) makes us Malaysian citizens. But being a Malaysian is more than that.

Lee Shing Yaw, PLF Merdeka Photo Contest 2019

To me, a Malaysian is a person who prizes racial unity. Historically, our country could not have achieved its independence if it were not for the united efforts of the major races in Malaya; the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians. Tunku Abdul Rahman (a Malay) is known as our Father of Independence, but independence was made possible with the cooperation of the Chinese through the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) under the leadership of Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun H.S. Lee, and the Indian community through the Malayan Indian Congress led by Tun V.T. Sambanthan. It was under the united front of the Alliance that Malayans were able to convince the British that we were ready to become a sovereign, united nation. The unity of purpose and cooperation is something that we can be proud of, and the lessons learned should be carried to the present. This also means we need to appreciate and understand our history as a nation better.

Edanan Taiban, PLF Merdeka Photo Contest 2019

A big part of being Malaysian is having Malaysian values. Being polite and civil with one another, and treating each other with respect, is always a good thing. Even little things like neighbours helping one another during ceremonies or celebrations, or greeting each other (a classic is the question “Buat apa tu?” (What are you doing?) even when you can see the neighbour is sweeping the lawn or hanging out the laundry!) are good examples of Malaysian values being expressed. One of the unique qualities of being Malaysian is our penchant to call one another Abang or Kakak (big brother or big sister), Uncle or Aunt, even when we have no blood relations whatsoever! It may not suit everyone but to me, it indicates that we consider ourselves as members of one huge family. These qualities of being nice to each other and helping one another regardless of race or relations are very Malaysian and should be our source of pride and comfort, especially during a pandemic. The #kitajagakita movement and the white flag campaign are expressions of our intent to care for one another.

Nor Hidayat Mohamed, PLF Merdeka Photo Contest 2018

I am grateful to be born in Malaysia; a country so rich in history, societal values, food, arts and culture. Today, as we celebrate Malaysia Day, we should reflect on the lessons of the past so that we do not lose sight of what we have gone through as a nation and what it means to be Malaysian.

Happy 58th Malaysia Day to all my fellow Malaysians.

Lim Kien Hock, PLF Merdeka Photo Contest 2019

p/s: What are your thoughts on what it means to be Malaysian? Share them with us in the comments section below!