The patriotic residents of this house in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, are all set for National Day. PIC BY SHAWAL AZANI

I WOULD like to take this opportunity to once again urge all of us to renew our pledge and commitment and to continue fulfilling our responsibility to the community, people and our beloved country.

We must realise that the benefits of independence which we are enjoying today are a result of the struggles of independence fighters of the past. Their sacrifices cannot be measured by any scale; they form the basis of our efforts to build an independent country that is politically, economically and socially stable.

At the same time, we need to realise that the benefits of independence we currently enjoy could not have been achieved without solid consensus, cooperation and unity among the people.

Peace and commitment from each citizen are the main prerequisites for any country to progress. Because of this, we must insist that our practice of tolerance, mutual respect and cooperation continues to thrive in order for these values to stand the test of time.

We must reject a life that is based on the values of mazmumah (despicable traits). One bad apple spoils the whole barrel, so we must not do anything that will cause ill effects.

Because of this, we must be patriotic at heart and patriotic in interpreting the meaning of independence to ensure that Malaysia will enjoy a more glorious future.

There will be storms that will come and go, and we shall rise and fall facing them. Ultimately, we determine our own destiny. When it comes to the people’s prosperity and harmony, we must make sure to defend them against mercenaries who want to see our downfall.

Therefore, the spirit of patriotism must be translated into love, compassion and care for our country. It is not merely about expressing feelings with words.

It must be interpreted with a desire to improve, rehabilitate and strengthen the values of nationhood and to strengthen our hearts and souls as citizens.

For the upcoming sacred date of Aug 31, let us ignite our love and renew our pledge to defend our country, no matter what the challenges or hardships that we may encounter.

In the past, our country’s fighters went through a journey marked with hardships and challenges by way of bullets and cannons. Today, the challenge we face will threaten us in digital forms. It is a form of colonisation of the mind, and it will be seen through constrictions related to the economy and perception. Today, information travels in the blink of an eye and it can allow us to be colonised due to false news.

The inability to differentiate right from wrong can be fatal, and this can lead to a colonisation of actions and thoughts. It is similar to being a loyal slave to colonialists.

We need to examine these matters with knowledge and by fulfilling our independence with attitudes that reflect the meaning of independence. This is done with knowledge and a world-class mentality shaped by the independence which we have gained.

We need to celebrate our diversity as well as the different opinions among the different races and religions, as these are the traits of the independent people of Malaysia.

We cannot be held back by narrow-mindedness or narrow-minded actions. We cannot accept things that are presented to us without asking what these things implicitly mean to us.

I wish to draw the people’s attention to a campaign we carry out every year, which is the invitation to Malaysians to fly the Jalur Gemilang as a way to celebrate our independence day.

To some of us, it is the simplest way to display our pride as Malaysians. We are a people who are not only independent but successful. For some people, flying the Jalur Gemilang is a patriotic act and an expression of our love for our country.

Others may not feel anything and they don’t associate any meaning with this act. For these people, it is meaningless and has no function.

For this group, thousands or maybe millions of Jalur Gemilang at every corner of the country is a “regular” sight. There is no “feel” that stems from their being as it is just about flying a flag.

The Jalur Gemilang is not merely a piece of cloth that is flown without reason. It is the most important symbol of our country. It is the heart and soul of Malaysia. Without it, there is no meaning in nationhood.

There is no other symbol that is as important or greater than the Jalur Gemilang. When we mention Malaysia’s name, the thing that comes to mind is our flag, Jalur Gemilang.

For that matter, mention any country, and the symbol associated with it is its national flag as it evokes feelings of pride. Despite the oceans we explore or how many times we conquer the summit of Everest, and the millions of lights and flowers which decorate the country, these things cannot compare to the value of Jalur Gemilang when it is raised accompanied by the national anthem.

The moment Jalur Gemilang is raised to the top of the flagpost, every fibre in our being swells with pride and love for Malaysia. How stately the flag flies, and how grand and gallant it looks.

Let us promote this feeling of pride as a way to appreciate the deeds of our forefathers. We should fly the flag in every corner of the country because we want Malaysians to remember the struggles of our founders and our successes in the past six decades. We must recall Malaysia’s extraordinary journey, and be grateful for our good fortune. Indeed, Malaysia is a prosperous and peaceful nation.

Let us pray she remains successful, and may we be granted the strength, commitment and loyalty to make sure of that.

The writer is Johor menteri besar

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