On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Beauty of being Malaysian

While our nation is a country of endless possibilities, it is also a land of endless contradictions.

IT’S Merdeka Day. No Malaysian can possibly pass through the day (yesterday, to be precise) without a thought for our first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.

That spellbinding image of Bapa Merdeka raising his right hand and leading the nation in shouting “Merdeka” seven times at the newly built Stadium Merdeka on Aug 31 1957 is etched forever in the minds of every Malaysian.

Nostalgia aside, I also wonder what the Tunku would have thought about the country and us, Malaysians, if he were alive today.

Yes, the slogan “Endless Possibilities” will soon be a buzzword but this is also a Land of Endless Contradictions.

But, as I wrote last week, I love these mind-boggling confusions. Malaysia is surely a more interesting place to live in than the clinically sterile Singapore.

Well, for starters, the Tunku would think we must have gone bonkers if we expect him to pester his Indonesian counterpart for help to ship in Indonesian maids and construction workers to Malaysia!

Bung Karno, as President Sukarno was called, would have freaked out and declared war on Malaysia, and not just a Confrontation!

But here we are, in 2013, and we expect Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to go to Jakarta, or any place where President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is present, to ask him if the maids are coming soon.

Here’s the weird part about us Malaysians. We whine and grumble that there are too many foreigners in this country and in the same breath, we complain that the government is slacking by not getting us enough foreign labour.

Now, we are launching a campaign to send the illegals back – and we all know full well that those we send back will return the following week.

We used to blame the foreigners for every single crime in this country and now we are also blaming them for voting the ruling coalition back to power.

So who do we blame for the spike in crime now? The poor Indians – someone has to be the scapegoat, and for good measure we also blame the Tamil movie industry with its violent plots for influencing this 1.7 million minority group in our country to turn to a life of crime.

But the Tunku would have loved the over 100 TV channels available today with most of them showing re-runs of muscular men wrestling with giant catfish and giant snakes.

In his days, there were only two channels although the TV sets came with many knobs to tune in to other channels.

The Sports Toto draw was aired live every Sunday afternoon with Faridah Merican, now Datuk, hosting the “cabutan”. Malaysians were so bored then that watching the drawing of numbers became routine on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

But the Tunku would have been perplexed by what is shown on TV these days, though with his open mind, he probably would have cracked a joke or two over it.

Scantily-clad dancers gyrating on Astro’s MTV channel are a given but when it comes to the newspapers, the rules are totally the opposite. In print, armpits and navels cannot be exposed, in case the images send some of us into a sexual frenzy!

Well, it may be hard for many of us to believe but this is the Land of Countless Contradictions, and the exposure of armpits, mind you, is definitely regarded as “terlalu menggairahkan” (too arousing). We have been lectured on this often enough.

I am also sure the Tunku would be howling with laughter at some of the ridiculous antics of our politicians.

The golden age of our local cinema movies was during the time of the Tunku when we had P. Ramlee, the Vespa, curry puff hairstyle and the pop yeh yeh at nightclubs. We are talking class here.

But now, we have relegated ourselves to watching local movies of gangsters and hantu (ghosts) while movie makers attempting to make serious, clever movies on history find themselves subjected to threats and bullying – by politicians who have not even watched their movies!

Here’s the best part! A movie about a rapist who beats up his wife and visits a nightclub, wins the best movie of the year award, with the leading character being almost hero-worshipped.

And that’s not all, the Singaporean actor also wins the best local actor award!

If you are confused, I don’t blame you, because many of us are confused, and that’s why we keep on doing confusing things.

That’s not all – the Tunku was always a football fan. This is the man who turned the Merdeka football tournament into a premier event in the region.

That was the best of the best. It was pure “gaya, mutu dan keunggulan” (style, quality and elegance), as a commercial from back then used to say. We beat the South Koreans, the Myanmars and practically any other foreign team that set foot on our soil.

Now, everybody can beat us. But no one at the Football Association of Malaysia is held responsible, even as the guys from the Maldives, who are trying to save their island from sinking, are ranked higher than us. Macam biasa aje, bro!

And if we talk about freedom, the Tunku would be floored because after 56 years of independence, lovesick Malaysian women are losing millions of ringgit each year to African Romeos posing as handsome and wealthy Englishmen.

It is simply incredible that these con men in Puchong or Sentul are able to convince our gullible ones that they are living in the English countryside and are looking for Malaysian love.

But don’t get me wrong! I love this country! I repeat, lest some super-sensitive politician makes an issue out of this column, I love this country.

Well, there’s one thing we consistently do very well at every Merdeka celebration – we produce the best TV commercials for these special occasions.

And most Malaysians still can laugh at ourselves, or at least at the politicians. Happy Merdeka Day!