Photo credit (above): Pratanti | Flickr
When I fall in love, it will be forever…
I was born in the small town of Seria in Brunei. It was my only idea of home, and I had an amazing childhood with the perks of a great school, plenty of places to run around and quality time with my family.
Despite Brunei being my country of birth, I cannot be a citizen. Fortunately my parents were Sarawakians. Upon my father’s retirement, we decided to settle back in his hometown of Kuching. So there I was at 14; a Malaysian citizen but feeling like a fish out of water.
When did I feel Malaysian? It may be my birthright but I was never indoctrinated in the local school system. In fact, I knew the Brunei national anthem better than Malaysia’s.
For those old enough to remember, I was watching television one day and I heard a beautiful voice crooning these lyrics.
Demi negara yang tercinta
Dicurahkan bakti penuh setia
Demi raja yang disanjung tinggi
Kesetiaan tak berbelah bagi
Kepada pemimpin kepada rakyat
Khidmat diberi penuh taat
Sama bekerja sama berusaha
Setia berkhidmat untuk semua
Rela berkorban apa saja
Amanah bangsa tetap dijaga
Kami berikrar penuh setia
Untuk agama, bangsa dan negara
Of course, this was Francesca Peters singing Setia. The song moved me to tears. And you know what, I believed it.
The songstress singing Setia
Who is a Malaysian?
Lately, the whole issue of loyalty has been questioned.
Personally, I like to think that the country is going through its teenage phase with its angst and troublesome behaviour.
And just like a mother with a rebellious teenager, you don’t disown the child. You see things through. You resolve things. You don’t abandon the child at the sign of trouble. That’s just my humble opinion.
One person who has inspired me and truly epitomised the true Malaysian spirit would be none other than Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, more affectionately known as Lat.
Growing up reading Lat’s cartoons, he was able to transcend all races and religions when depicting how we live. We were able to recognise ourselves in his cartoons.
It was that fine line where we could laugh at ourselves and not feel insulted in the process.
My other icon would have to be Datuk Nicol David, our squash queen. She’s a role model for the young and old.
She always wears a smile on her face. Be it a win or the occasional loss, she’s always gracious.
She always accepts responsibility, talks about her future steps and continues to astound us.
My only axe to grind is that squash is not an Olympic sport. She will be Malaysia’s first Olympic gold medallist, for sure!
Closer to home
Obviously because of work, I meet a lot of business people. We always hear stories about Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. However, there are also many people in Malaysia whom we don’t give enough credit to.
I discovered one of the many unsung heroes when I was doing research for my second book. It is a commissioned piece of work about a gentleman named Raymond Chew who was the founder of Pos Ad Group.
Chew passed away three years ago at the young age of 57. I must have interviewed close to 40 people of various races to understand the stories about the man.
These were people he met as a mentor, boss, brother, father, husband, friend, church friend and business partner.
No matter how the relationship began, most of them somehow ended up being friends with Chew. He touched everyone’s life and gave his time and resources while constantly remaining humble.
With no prior experience and track record, he revolutionised the point of sales (POS) industry by changing how we shop and how products were categorised.
He faced a lot of resistance in the beginning because he disrupted the industry and how “things are always done”. However, through perseverance, he pushed on and managed to become a successful person.
Speaking of disruptors, my boss at BFM Media, Malek Ali, is another one of my heroes.
BFM’s purpose is basically to build a better Malaysia by championing rational, evidence-based discourse as a key element of good policy decisions.
BFM applies its discourse-based approach to other programming areas such as entrepreneurship, health, fashion, arts, sports and music, as well as to its executive education initiative, The BFM Business School.
When I joined the company close to six years ago, that was the vision I was sold on. And despite criticisms and setbacks, that still continues to be our war cry. It goes to show that we can make changes wherever we’re placed.
“Malaysia Where Love Grows” is the theme for our 57th Merdeka Day this year.
I would like to think of my love for the country as a sacred marriage vow.
Many times this marriage has been tested; from the 2008 and 2013 elections to the recent crisis with MH17 and MH370. We’ve seen how Malaysians have behaved during those trying times.
I choose to see the good and the renewed hope these events have brought, and not dwell on the negative. With this, I can only renew my “marriage” vows.
I, Freda Liu, take you, Malaysia, to be my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day forward.
In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow.
I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honour and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
Freda Liu is a faculty of Leaderonomics focusing on public relations and broadcasting. She is also a presenter/producer of Enterprise on BFM89.9. Follow her on Twitter @voiceguru or her blog at www.fredaliu.com/blog. To engage Freda for organisational work in your organisation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.