What Merdeka celebration is complete without us singing along to this:
“Tanggal 31Tanggal 31 by Allayarham Sudirman Haji Arshad
Bulan lapan, 57
Hari yang mulia
Sambut dengan jiwa yang merdeka”
As we look back at what we have achieved as a nation of diverse cultures, there is much to be said both good and bad. However, Malaysia continues to be a unique melting pot that attracts people from all over the world. Our country somehow manages to make them fall in love with its beauty, culture, people and most importantly its FOOD.
Beating the Odds
This year, on our 65th Merdeka celebration, it would do us good to look back on the unbelievable year we have had:
1) We overcame a global pandemic and are moving towards recovering as a nation;
2) We have seen the chickens coming home to roost for some bigwigs. While, KFCs and Nasi Ayam places all over the country ran out of chicken;
3) We have seen the economy take a nosedive and a rise in depression and people giving up facing a tough new reality; and
4) We have also seen people come together to help each other face the pandemic and the various natural calamities and disasters across the nation.
Most importantly, we have seen a rise in awareness in terms of the changing weather, food shortage, equality, sustainability, ethics, freedom of speech, choice, politics, policy and social engineering among other important aspects.
That being said one thing that will always stay the same is our love for this country and the food we find here. Many of us may be struck by nostalgia looking back at the moments filled with patriotic grace waving our candy filled flags wildly at the parades, be it at school or city based events, hanging up flags at home with our parents, and watching documentaries on TV or short videos shared on social media on our forefathers’ quest to independence. Thus, raising our pride as Malaysians.
United in Food
Sadly this view might not be shared by many in this trying times of division and uncertainty, on top of the sweet siren song of moving on to greener pastures across the seas.
But then again, we have to ask ourselves. Can we actually live without our food culture and favorite local fixes? Be it the nasi lemak packs we can get from any street corner, the peddled munchies and kerepeks ranging from sweet to savory, the various hidden groves of mixed rice, nasi campur and ulam, tomyam, goreng-goreng, bak-kut-teh, chic-kut-teh and the slew of sambals.
So this Merdeka celebration, throughout the whole 17 days from the 31st through to the 16th of September, no matter where you are, at home, at work or travelling to a different state on a getaway or a holiday weekend, do remember, even though there is an option of choosing fast food and big chains and all the cool promotions, the people and cultures that have given Malaysia its identity and will always continue giving us the greatest hits of food we remember since we were kids or at least since we were initiated into the local hidden gems by that foodie friend we know. #supportlokal and all those by the streets, under trees, beside huge drains and all the classic coffeeshops and food courts.
This Merdeka, choose this simple act of acknowledgement and selective consumerism. Even though divided by labels and the agendas that be, we can and always will remain united as Malaysians. For the love of our country and its great local food, let’s make this 65th Merdeka celebration all about us.