Lessons from Merdeka in overcoming the pandemic

BY K. K. TAN

There is a saying that “History is a great teacher”.

As we celebrate the true meaning of Merdeka during this devastating pandemic, there are many lessons that we can learn from the past struggle for our country’s independence 64 years ago.

From 2017 to 2019, the social enterprise in which I founded recently (Asian Heritage Museum Sdn Bhd) was given the heavy responsibility of managing, maintaining and care-taking our country’s premier historical site, Carcosa Seri Negara.

This 30-acre government-owned site was the official residence of our first British High Commissioner, Sir Frank Swettenham. It was where our Constitution was mostly drafted from 1956 to 1957. It was used as the official guest palace of our first King from 1957 and our second King passed away and was lying in state there in 1960.

Most important of all, it was where our nine Rulers signed the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957, otherwise known as the “Merdeka Agreement”, on August 5 1957, with the last High Commissioner of Britain. 

As we did not have the resources and time (we were only given a three-year tenancy) needed to set up a permanent “Asian Heritage Museum” (what we called it then) there to promote peace and Asian cultural heritage and harmony, we decided to organise a “Jalan Merdeka” Exhibition instead, with the aim of educating people on the real struggle of our forefathers and the sacrifices they had to made in order to achieve Merdeka.

Much of the credit for this exhibition must be given to our council chairman then, Tunku Zain Al-`Abidin Muhriz, a highly educated history buff and he was also the lead curator of this project.

Organised with the collaboration of at least five relevant government bodies such as the Department of Museums, National Archives and the New Straits Times and with the support and sponsorship of the corporate sector, it was a stunning success with rave reviews.

The exhibition was launched in a grand manner by the Ruler of Negri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir on August 31 2017.

Thousands of people from all walks of life, including foreign tourists and the local expatriate and diplomatic community, visited the exhibition and heaped praises about it and the architectural and natural beauty of the venue, in our log book.

Amongst the VVIPs who visited, the highly learned Deputy King and Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, was so impressed by the exhibition that he wrote in the visitors’ log: “Wonderful Exhibition, Congratulations”. (Google “Jalan Merdeka@Carcosa” for more stories.)

So what are the lessons that we can learn from the struggle for Merdeka to apply to our current struggle to overcome this terrible pandemic? It is all about leadership.

Lesson 1

Most of our past leaders then, led by our charismatic and the late first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, were good and honourable leaders with high integrity and great capability. They were prepared to make sacrifices for country and the Rakyat that they were fighting.

We would need to be honest and ask ourselves how many of our current leaders across the political divide (many whom seem so self-serving and corrupt) can even come close to the quality, especially integrity, of our past heroic leaders, who could easily inspire in us a great sense of patriotism.

Lesson 2

As we had good strategic leaders then, the objectives of the struggle were focused and understood by all. They clearly articulated to all stakeholders, involved including the British administration, whom our leaders had earned their respect.

There were few tactical mistakes. The main tactics used were negotiations and peaceful public rallies.

Are the objectives and the tactics used today to deal with the pandemic clearly understood by our current leaders across the political divide?

It would seem that the most convenient “weapon of choice” promoted by most of our leaders across the “political divide”, the mRNA chemical gene, in which we have a total quantity of 45.8 million doses for 22.9 million people, is not really a vaccine after all, according to science (and US Patent Office and CDC) and what a vaccine is supposed to do (prevent infection and stop the spread).

It would also appear that in countries which are most vaccinated, there are also more infections, deaths and new variants. So why are our leaders blindly following the blind at the expense of our rakyat?

Worse still, the new mRNA technology (in which even the inventor Dr Robert Malone is against using it as a human vaccine due to its potential harm) has been proven in overseas studies (such as the Japanese government sponsored Bio-distribution Study announced on May 28 2021 and the Spanish Graphene Oxide Study published on June 28 2021) to be very toxic.

It means that the risks of using this mRNA (not a vaccine), such as having immediate or longer term severe side effects (including death) would far outweigh the main benefit of reducing the severity of the symptoms of Covid-19.

However, there seems to be a greater realisation lately by the new government to use more of the real and much safer vaccines, such as those using tried and tested inactivated virus technology (such as Sinovac).

Hopefully, there would be a complete switch quickly to use a much safer vaccine like Sinovac. Safety must always come first, way before efficacy. For what is the use if the vaccine is 100 percent effective today but would harm you later on.

Lesson 3

As we had just and inclusive leaders then, the people were united across the racial and gender divide and even when the colonial British administration tried to use “divide and rule” as they did with other colonial territories, they were unable to break the resolve of our people in wanting independence and to be a proud sovereign nation.

Eventually, we won and got what we wanted.

Yes, our people today are also united across the racial and gender divide in fighting this pandemic but the main difference now is that many of our rakyat of all ethnicities, especially from poorer background, are suffering in the most unbearable manner with many even committing and contemplating suicide.

There should be a special task force set up by the government to help those who are more vulnerable and from the lower income group.

The writer is also a corporate, political and geo-political analyst for more than 35 years and author of an international best-selling book entitled ‘The Great Software Debate: Open Free or Proprietary?’