Slouching towards 50

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After so many years of Independence, has it come to this? That’s the question Cecil Rajendra asks, in this special poem to mark 50 years of Merdeka. What has gone wrong?

After so many
years of Independence …..
Has it come to this?

Behind the slogan
— One People/One nation —
each man huddled
in his little warren
of race, language, religion …..

After so many
years of Independence ……
Has it come to this?

******

With siege mentality
each to each
hugs his ethnicity:

This one vows
to preserve the purity
of his mother-tongue;

That one swears
to fight to keep
his special position;

And another threatens
to blow himself up
in defence of his religion;

******

Each politician
at election time
perched on an
ethnic soap-box
pandering
to the basest
racist sentiments
of his constituents;

then turning
unabashed
to the media
preaches virtues
of National Unity!

After so many
years of Independence ……
Has it come to this?

******

Where every proud father
is a true Green
environmentalist;
committed to conservation
protection of our eco-system;
until he receives
his lucrative timber concession.

And every model mother
is all for meritocracy
fair-play and scholarship;
until confirmation comes
her darling daughter
has gained MU admission
thanks to the quota system.

******

Where awards, honours
titles fall by the bushel
on the shoulders
of sycophant civil servants
self-serving politicians
money-grubbing technocrats
& ‘Captains’ of the Industry;
while the honest critic
is branded ‘unpatriotic’
the public-spirited Doctor
deemed an eccentric
& any selfless lawyer, a damn fool!

READ MORE:  Merdeka: Challenges ahead but still cause for celebration

******

Where every citizen
is judged not
by his professionalism
character, integrity
contribution to society;
but by the make of his
Merz, platinum cards
& his big-wig con-
nections with the Council.

******
A generous, caring people
when it comes to giving
to causes/calamities abroad
we dig deep into our pockets
rush relief/supplies to troubled
spots: Aceh, Lanka, Bam & Bosnia ……

Yet are deaf to the screams
of our next-door neighbour
beaten to pulp by her husband;
we turn the volume of our
televisions up, stopper our ears;
we do not wish to get
involved, we prefer not to hear.

After so many
years of Independence ……
has it come to this?

******

Yes Malaysia Can
construct the tallest towers
the longest bridges ……

Yes Malaysia Can
hoist two men up Everest
one across the English Channel ……

Yes Malaysia can
(with a little help
from the Royal Navy)
propel a yachtsman
around the world ……

Yes Malaysia Can
(with a little help
from Russian Technology)
put a man on the moon ……
But the real question is:
Can Malaysia have clean toilets?
Civil, civil servants?
A judicious judiciary?
An open, corrupt-free society?

******

Where once
there was but one ……
now a galaxy
of Colleges/Universities
dot our horizon.

Doctors, Lawyers
Computer Engineers
Business Administrators
pour like Protons
off the conveyor-
belt of our institutes
of highter education.

Yes, the business
of learning has
come a long way
since Independence ……
yet, how many
of our graduates
can stitch together
one proper sentence?

******
Yes, our legal system
has undergone an evolution
since days of colonization ……
The humble law court
Has been supplanted by
a grand Palace of Justice.

READ MORE:  Reaching out towards the pinnacle of Merdeka

But will our Judiciary
continue to be
subservient
to our Executive?

Will judges be directed
to do as they’re told
& lawyers muzzled
by Acts of Parliament?

Will appearance be given
preference over essence
and the margin of a Writ
still deemed more
important than its substance?

Will the Rule of Law
with rule by law
continue to be confused?

Will our Judges
(intimidated
by extremists)
be fearful
to uphold
our Constitution?

With bated breath
a nation awaits
the twists & turns
of our Law’s
evolution/devolution.

******
Thanks to the Super
Multimedia Corridor
our children
are computer savvy
wise to all
the fashion trends
in London or Paris
but I haven’t
an elementary
grasp of honour
hygiene or history.

Contemptuous
of their elders
oblivious
to the welfare
& rights of others
they are forever
in your face
strutting
‘their stuff’
in malls
& on highways ……
which raises
another question:
are we spawning
a generation
of barbarians?

******
We sprint
from ‘under-
developed’
to ‘developed’ ……
from agricultural
to industrial ……
Yet
all our development
has been vertical
showy, superficial ……
little cultural
& nothing spiritual.

******
Talking global
acting provincial;
Preaching harmony
practicing bigotry;
still whispering
behind closed doors
the old prejudices;
about this Chinese
sundry-shop owner
being so mercenary;
about that Malay
Datuk being so lazy;

about this Eurasian
musician who’s mixed-up & crazy;
and that Indian
gardener who’s
always, always tipsy.

******
Yet, once a year
Hari Raya, Christmas
Chinese New Year
Deepavali ……
with outstretched arms
and botox smiles
opening our doors
to all and sundry.

READ MORE:  Reaching out towards the pinnacle of Merdeka

After so many
years of Independence ……
has it come to this:

Has all our evolution
been into a Nation
of Open Houses
and closed minds?

After 50 years
of Independence
Has it come to this ……

Cecil Rajendra
1957-2007

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