Author: Eleanor Easter Awell

Image: © thestar.com

A Malaysian is known as someone who resides in Malaysia legally, provided with proof of an identification card, and most importantly, someone who is born and raised in the country. It might be easier than it seems, but the true meaning of being one of the country’s residents is to speak the language, adapt with the different cultures, and honour the Malaysian flag, Jalur Gemilang, with pride.

Malaysia is prospered with multicultural people who speak their mother tongue. Nevertheless, most of us converse in Bahasa Malaysia as it is our national language. Consequently, the same language we use daily can connect people of various backgrounds where their mother tongue is their first language at home. It is true that globally, English is the lingua franca, but Bahasa Malaysia is equally important to ease the conversation in the local community. Everyone struggles to learn the many languages in Malaysia, hence the national language is widely spoken to interact with people and to preserve the Malaysian spirit. Besides, there is a wonderful twist to this. Someone who claims to be a Malaysian should also possess the willingness to learn the national language because Bahasa Malaysia is always attached with Malaysian cultures and its history. Despite of priding over your own race and culture, it should not be an excuse to be disrespectful of other cultures. Therefore, the ability to adapt with Malaysian cultures is to acknowledge their practices and habits. It is easy to get confused at first, but there are so many instances to learn from. Most Malaysians are used to eat with their bare hands, and Muslims are always allowed to perform their prayers if coincide with any function or celebration. In fact, what shapes Malaysia is dated back to our great-grandparents’ era. How someone perceives the truth of the Malaysian identity is entirely subjective, but historical facts that builds Malaysia’s foundation should never be forgotten. These facts from the past also bring everyone together, where everyone feels belonged and carries the same identity of a Malaysian.

Moreover, there is something beautiful to ponder upon as well: What makes us a true Malaysian is to honour our national flag — the Jalur Gemilang, which holds tremendous history of blood shed by national heroes with pride attached to it. Foreigners usually enter Malaysia as workers, professionals or even because of their Malaysian spouses, but do they know “Negaraku” as our national anthem? Do they sing “Negaraku” wholeheartedly? We have sung the national anthem since young, and it is a huge step to take of becoming a Malaysian. Malaysian citizenships can be claimed by anyone, but what makes us different between us and a foreigner is by looking at the Jalur Gemilang. Although someone is born a Malaysian but has resided in other country for their whole life due to migration possibly be lacked with this value. We should always reflect on what our founding fathers have fought for, and what is the meaning of independence that brought Malaysia to life. Be grateful of what the national heroes have thought about when they were in the war zone all this time. It was not about fearing the enemies but having a heart full of courage and power wherever we are. It was never about the citizenship but accepting of being here in Malaysia to work for this country, proudly. Therefore, the meaning of being a Malaysian is to carry Malaysia’s dignity, honour and pride everyday of our lives until our last breath.

We have come so far from the days we fought for our Malaysian rights; thus, it would be a waste of neglecting that long-lost spirit now that we have independence. Times have changed, but the Malaysian identity always remains in each one of us.