SANDAKAN, Sept 15 — When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob coined the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ (Malaysian Family), it was most fitting as the nation’s birthday was just around the corner.
“Our very own home. We are one big family,” said Sandakan notable businessman Datuk Thomas Lau, 72, recalling the momentous event 58 years ago.
Speaking to Bernama here today, he said a family is the definition of what being a Malaysian is today.
“Achieving nationhood was my fondest memory now that we can call ourselves Malaysians…free from colonialism.
“I was only 14 then, in secondary school, when I heard Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj made the declaration that Malaysia was born,” he said.
Like many youngsters who were born and only knew life under a colonial era until that historical Sept 16, Lau was full of appreciation and aspirations that Malaysia would be fully matured and developed, irrespective of its multiracial people and beliefs.
“Our rich diversity is a showcase of tolerance, understanding and peaceful living,” he said.
“Therefore, it is my hope that the younger generation will participate in our nation-building, making Malaysia a vibrant, prosperous and progressive nation where the world will respect us because we are really concerned about our human rights and that the rule of law is paramount and supreme,” he added.
For Aliza Alawi, 28, who was born 30 years after Malaysia’s birth, it was difficult for her to fathom what her life would have been like under foreign rule.
However, she said, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation could be similar to what it was like for the people before the country’s independence, craving for freedom.
“It is almost pointless being in good health without freedom (from pandemic). We need both – good health and freedom to continue to celebrate a historical day like Malaysia Day,” she said.
As the country strives to rid of COVID-19 and return to normalcy, Aliza reminisces fond memories of commemorating Malaysia Day every year throughout her school years. It is something that young children have been missing out on celebrating due to the pandemic which hit the country last year.
“Not everyone gets to enjoy those times at school. So, cherish those moments when given the chance,” she said.
She also urged Malaysians to come together to win the fight against COVID-19 by spreading the good word on the benefits of receiving COVID-19 vaccination so the country could get back on track to propel itself as a great nation.