AS we look forward to Merdeka Day, we should never forget the sacrifices made by our founding fathers amid the spectacular cultural presentations, parades and concerts planned to mark the occasion.
We must honour and cherish the struggle of leaders who liberated us from the clutches of colonialism.
"Independence" is about freedom from outside interference, control, influence, support or aid. This "freedom" goes beyond celebrating and honouring our independence as we need to develop Malaysia morally and ethically.
As the country develops, negative elements like the drug menace, child and sexual abuse, and baby dumping are seeping into the very fabric of our culture.
Independence from social ills will help fill the soul and spirit of our beloved nation. This will, in turn, increase our chances of creating a better world, not only for Malaysians today but also for future generations.
Celebrations and festivals alone will not mould Malaysia into a strong nation. We need relentless efforts and well-laid out plans to give a collective sense of patriotic pride to Malaysians from all walks of life. Together, we need to overhaul our mindset and attitudes, and remain focused and committed in realising our dreams of a united and spirited Malaysia.
In spite of the setbacks, we have successfully developed into a democratic country which has become the envy of many. However, one weakness is the obsessive nature of politics which sometimes gets the better of our rationality.
Recently, the multiracial character of our nation was beautifully represented by a multiracial orchestra at Istana Budaya.
I wonder if the renderings of the orchestra can be emulated and translated into daily life by Malaysians from all walks of life.
I am sure this will reflect the dreams of Malaysians who want to see everyone living harmoniously and working hand-in-hand in facing the trials and tribulations of nation-building.
To quote Mahatma Gandhi, "to safeguard democracy, the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect and oneness". So, let us come together this Merdeka Day and fly our flags proudly.
Mohamed Mokhtar Ahmad Bajunid, Kuala Lumpur