Selamat Hari Merdeka.
Britain doesn't have a national day. (Well okay, we have our patron saint days e.g. England has St. George's day which everyone forgets about.) We're pretty sneery about patriotism in general. The only displays of patriotism now are reserved for international football matches, royal weddings and funerals, and the last night of the Proms.
But I think a national day is a much good thing, even if you're cynical about the marching and the flag waving and other openly extravagant shows of patriotism. It makes you think about your nation, examine how far you've gone since the turning point of Independence, and contemplate your future.
This year's National Day feels a bit dislocated. 49 is an awkward birthday. (Been there myself, bought the t-shirt.) You're contemplating the big one, when you can really pull all the stops out, so you don't bother much with the one at hand.
Congrats then to the New Straits Times which is celebrating Merdeka with an excellent exhibition of photos from 1957 in Bangsar Shopping Complex. The pictures also appear in a special pull-out section in today's newspaper.
I scanned in my favourite photo (top) captioned Have payung, will travel. I just love this group of smiling Malay girls strolling with their parasols. And how gaya they are in their traditional dress with flowers pinned in their hair.
Can a whole era be summarized in these images? Nostalgia naturally tints the past in rosy tones, but I do wonder if folks were happier back then.
The NST has also produced a facsmile of it's 1957 Merdeka issue which makes fascinating reading.*