My six years old was quite excited yesterday when he gets the day off from school for Merdeka Day today. So I asked him "Do you even know what Merdeka is?". He just shrugged and asked me back, "What is Merdeka Papa?".
Well son, a long time ago, 500 years to be exact, our country was ruled and controlled by somebody else. People from another country far far away (no, not Star Wars). First there was the Portuguese, then the Dutch and then the English before the Japanese took over for a while and finally them Englishmen again. No they didn't come here to play football but these 'invaders' instead get to control pretty much everything we say and do and they make us pay them with money and gold so that they can take it back to their hommies and Kings and Queens back home. Why and how did those guys gained control of our country again? Well first because we are not very smart and then we were kinda weak and divided. We didn't have much education to begin with. We had not many school to go to back then and nothing much to learn. In another word, we weren't very smart at all 500 years ago. These invaders on the other hand, learned so much in science and technology and weaponry that they had big ships with big guns which they used to take over other not very developed countries (like ours) whether by force or through 'business deals'. Lastly, our people then was rather divided. We had many different states with slightly different cultures but we fought with each other all the time. Our leaders battle for riches, land and power. Unity or education didn't cross their mind much.
So after a few hundred years, some of our people got kinda smart and they united for a while to ask for independence or Merdeka from the Englishmen. After the second big world war (yeah some people loves to fight a lot and they still do), our last invader - the Englishmen started to become weak and countries under their rule started to ask for independence including ours. Independence simply means we get to rule our country for ourselves for a change. We get to select who our leaders is and how we get to spend all the money and the riches that we have in our blessed land. So after some negotiations the Englishmen said "cool, you can have your independence provided that all of you (the Malays, Chinese, Indian + others) stay together peacefully, no fighting and no telling either of you to go back to India, China or wherever alright?". So our ancestors back then agreed and on the 31st of August some 53 years back, the Englishmen decided to let go of our country and we declared independence or Merdeka. 7 years later, the cool people of Sarawak and Sabah who were still under British rule decided to join us as well and got their independence too.
So finally we have Merdeka and get to rule our country and lived happily ever after right? Well, for most of the part, yes. But you see son, after the Englishmen left, some of our so-called 'leaders' started to act exactly like the old colonial rulers themselves. They plundered many of the riches in our land for themselves, they divided our people by building different school for different races and planted ideas that some race is better than others and the inferior race should just shut up and follow whatever they say or they can take a taxi and leave. Of course not all of them are that bad, else we wouldn't have progressed like we had today. But some were really-really bad. For every building or project they make, almost half of the money will go into their (or their friends and family™) pocket. And these bad people will do literally everything to hang on to power. The will rig the election (the event where we choose our leaders), control the police, judges and some royalties, manipulate the media and government agencies and most of all, use the people's (our) money to bribe the people to choose them to be leaders again. You know son, bribery is one of the baddest of all bad things. It's very evil and unfair and those who use money to get other people to do something for them will most certainly go to hell. Don't even think about it, son, it is totally uncool.
You might ask, why then people still choose these crooked people into power again and again, year after year? Well son, that is because half of our people, unfortunately, have no idea of the evils that those crooked guys do over the years. After all, those guys controlled the television, radio and newspaper and they make sure that these media only say good things about them and left out the not so good things. That's why some people didn't know or refused to believe that these guys are really bad. For them, their leaders (who smells like roses) are the nicest and most trustworthy person in the world and they only have the people's interest at heart. Some of our people though, knew very well of all the evils that these leaders do but they choose to do nothing or even worse, took part in stealing the country's riches and furthering their divide and conquer agenda.
But you know what son? That was a long time ago before there was the Internet and blogs and Facebook and Twitter. The Internet and blogs and Facebook and Twitter has helped our people to realize and find out everything that our leaders did, whether good or bad. You see son, there is always two side of a coin just as there are two kinds of leaders, the good and the bad. And those bad leaders, doesn't like the Internet very much because for one thing they cannot control what is being said there or order the blogs and Facebook and Twitter to say nice things about them. I can safely say that most of the things you read on the Internet is probably true. And even if they are not at first, sooner or later somebody will correct the wrong and the truth will come out. That is why son, those bad people is very afraid of the Internet. They don't want the truth to prevail and let people finds out how bad they are.
So you see son after 53 years, we are not quite totally independent just yet. They old and previous ruler used to oppress us and took away our money and stuff but after they left, rulers from our own people continued to do the same thing to us. We won't be independent until we oust these bad people out and replace them with some really good guys who won't steal or cheat us again. What we want and deserve is leaders who will use they money and trust we gave them to build our country, finds us good jobs and pay, give us the best education we can get, protect us from crooks and bad guys, make us feel safe walking on the streets, treat us all as equals regardless of our race and generally have our best interest at heart. We won't be really independent until we live peacefully together, no matter what race we are, be it Malay, Chinese, Indians or others. We have lived here together for hundreds of years and we had no other place to call home but here (regardless of what some people say).
And how do we do that, you ask? Simple, with education and the right information. Information, is the most powerful and valuable thing in the world right now. Those who has information can influence what others think and do. People don't go to war with only weapons anymore, today they control the world with information. Getting accurate and correct information is really important so that we can find out whether something is right or wrong. With the right information we can find out what actually happened and not just believe everything just because some people say so on TV or in the news. For example some people might inform you that Justin Bieber is so not cool when actually he is really cool. If you didn't read all the news website or blogs and fansites that said Bieber is actually cool, you might have believed what those people said earlier. Just because some people said something on TV or radio, doesn't mean they are the truth. You have to verify that source first from many different views or perspective and read what other people had to say about that first before you make up your mind. That is the importance of information.
Education is really important because without going to school or college or university you won't get really smart. If you are not really smart, bad people can easily fool you and take advantage of you. Yes I send you to kindergarten and school to learn science and maths and stuff but there are some things they don't teach you at school like politics and what is wrong and right and how to choose the right leader and stuff. That, I will teach you myself son, don't you worry.
They people who controls our country today, the same one you see on TV and stuff, half of them are really bad son and they just pretended to care about us when what they really cared is actually how to become richer with the money we pay them (through taxes and stuff) and how to hang on to the power that allowed them to do so in the first place. Unless we get rid of these people first, we won't be really independent. At least not yet.
Okay tonight I will teach you how to read news from Malaysia Today and Malaysiakini, alright?