Forty years on.. - Abdullah Ahmad

31 August 1997

Forty years ago at midnight, British Malaya became independent of British rule or misrule, whichever one prefers. Forty years on there are still many elders who have never forgiven the British policy of divide-and-rule which caused and remains the great impediment for Malaysian nation building.

Ten years earlier, also at midnight, the British Indian Empire crumbled: Pakistan was created at midnight, Friday, Aug 14, 1947 and India at midnight the following day (Aug 15).

Malaysia facilitated Singapore's independence on Aug 9, 1965 following a failed union.

How has each of these nations fared after Merdeka ? I will leave this for the reader to answer.

Malaysians have never had it so good despite the current poor performance of the ringgit and the stockmarket. Still, I ask fellow Malaysians to pause and ponder and ask themselves: Couldn't we have done better?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, time and again has appealed, maybe not with its Churchillian echoes of tears and sacrifice, for Malaysians to work hard and smart so that we can achieve Vision 2020 ahead of time.

Merdeka DayIt is up to the people who have the profound interest in Vision 2020's success to move Malaysians into the new millennium accompanied by greater prosperity and a more secure future for all.

Malaysian national solidarity does exist, the colonial economic structure has been dismantled - well almost - and racial tension and the probable clashes of interests have been greatly minimised if not
eliminated entirely.

The racial relationship may not, in fact, be as good as Mahathir desires and what the people cherish. However the fact remains, and no one can deny it, not even the prophets of doom and those who wish Malaysia ill, that racial harmony in our country is quite as good as one can hope to dream and achieve under the prevailing situation.