The Old Man From Ghana and The Malaysian Flag On My Car

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My team and I had dinner with the guys from Astro Awani last week, including the famous or to some maybe notorious Kamarul Bahrain Haron, the renowned TV presenter/ journalist. As we ate we talked of many issues and Kamarul shared a story that I must jot down here. He said, many years ago he was presenting for TV3 Ghana and covering a story at a salt mine in a place hundreds of miles off Accra.

The weather was harsh and it was 40 degrees scorching hot. The miners were all worn out, over worked and living in poverty. They walked bare footed on hot earth and drenched in sweat, carrying heavy loads on their shoulders. Pity he felt, but Kamarul said one special person had approached him.

He was an old man of about 70, exhausted and bent with age but still he was a labour of the salt mine, working every bones and muscles to earn a meagre living. The old man came to him, poked his arm with his strong labour finger and said loudly, “Malaisie! Malaisie!”. He was referring to the Malaysian flag on Kamarul’s journalist vest. The old man, living deep at the salt mine in Ghana, Africa, recognized the Malaysian flag.

“Yes, Malaysia! Malaysia!” Kamarul replied and the old man continued, “Malaisie! Malaisie! Mahathir! Mahathir!” And he gave thumbs up on both hands to him with this proud look on his face. Yes, he old man, a hardworking labour, probably a miner for life, recognized the Malaysian flag and our former Prime Minister. Despite the difficulties he faced in his life, the poor old man took some time to learn about the world outside.

At that time all Kamarul could do was to give him whatever Malaysian things that he had with him and in return he carried the image and story about meeting the old man with him until today.
That was many years ago.

I told Kamarul and everybody else at the table. Those were the years when I had the Malaysian flag on my car every August until September. During those times, many of us did. Many of us were very-very proud of being Malaysians and the image that she carried. Many years ago my friends and I, Malay, Chinese, Indian went to stadium to watch badminton together. We were very proud of our Rashid, Misbun, Lee Wan Wah and Choong Tan Fook. We watched football too and have our favourite teams. We were happy Malaysian for many reasons!

Do you still wonder why hardly anybody has the flag on their cars anymore? Are you even aware that your pride of being a Malaysian is slowly worn off?

I don’t know. I hope those happy days will come back again. Days when I have great many things to be proud of as a Malaysian.

Selamat Hari Merdeka.

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