Monday, June 17

Sky is not the limit for ‘Yi Liangs’


YI LIANGS WAITING TO BE INSPIRED: These young ones who called themselves Kcik Rocks were among the friends who had enriched my life while I enjoyed many evenings walking along the waterfront of Kota Kinabalu in my short stint there.

YI LIANG was into his second year in mechanical engineering at one of the top-notch universities in the United Kingdom.

After a short brush with London Olympics 2012, he announced to his parents that he was switching his course to events management.

It was so a dramatic change in such a short time that his parents found it hard to accept.

But Yi Liang was determined, saying: “This is where my dreams lies. This is the place where I can best present myself. I have been inspired.”

I heard about Yi Liang’s story on the eve of the grand opening of the London Olympics, and decided I would sit through it with the expectation to feel inspired although I must admit  inspiration is something beyond most people in the generation I belong to.

On Friday night (July 27), the world watched Oscar-winning director and east Londoner Danny Boyle orchestrating the launching of the 30thOlympiad themed ‘Inspiring a generation’ at the east end of the British capital.

Boyle is, of course, well-known for hit movies like Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire — and was the man responsible for Olympic opening ceremony.

Now let’s see what the world thought about  his ceremonial masterpiece?

It was neither a nostalgic sweep through the past nor a bold vision of a brave new future. Rather, it was a sometimes slightly insane portrait of a country that has changed almost beyond measure since the last time it hosted the Games in the grim postwar summer of 1948. — New York Times

If the opening ceremonies of the London Games sometimes seemed like the world’s biggest inside joke, the message from Britain resonated loud and clear: we may not always be your cup of tea, but you know – and so often love – our culture nonetheless.  — The Washington Post

The opening ceremony for Beijing was splendid but London’s was more individual. — A Chinese national

It was irreverent, but never disrespectful.

It was clever but did not outsmart itself.

It was at once subversive and sublime. This is a country of royals and artistocrats, but Boyle’s show rejoiced in the commoner. — The Sydney Morning Herald

Danny Boyle was able to play with the great symbols of Britain in a way that was both ironic and supportive, that takes a special gift. There are many different sorts and styles of histories. This wasn’t a competition with the Jubilee, which brought us pomp and majesty, this was something different, the people’s story. — Mary Beard, professor of classics at University of Cambridge

Awed? Inspired?

To me, it’s brilliant. It’s witty. That’s my impression of Britons, anyway.

Springing out of a place of meadows, farms, green villages, beautiful country gardens, picnics and Winnie-the-Pooh, AA Milne’s bear which has delighted generations of children tucked warmly in bed, it was a rude awakening  to our own Merdeka Day slogan.

Promises fulfilled. Period. It is accomplished. It is the end.

The Prime Minister affirmed this when  he said: “Promises fulfilled reflect the 55

years of peace, stability, prosperity and development Malaysia has enjoyed under Barisan Nasional.”

“A promise is worth a thousand ounces of gold” was splashed through the Chinese media in recent months as a translation to Janji Ditepati.

In Chinese, it reads yi nuo qian jin — a teaching which goes on to live out that value. It also articulates that words will be considered extensions of character and people are only  “as good as their word” because they are their word.

By the way, that’s how Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan sees it.

He was quoted as saying if one did not narrow down to a political point of view, fulfilling a promise is an universal good value and when we say promises are fulfilled, it motivates the people to fulfill their promises in all aspects of life.

At one Jelajah Janji Ditepati event, Najib listed the achievements of BN, saying: “We are not like the opposition where promises remain promises.”

This irked DAP Lim Kit Siang into accusing Najib of attempting to hijack Merdeka Day with this slogan. He said Najib had failed to distinguish between the nation and parties-in-power.

Now, let’s take a look at the National Day theme over the past decade.

It started with Because of you, Malaysia in 2000 which remained the main choice for seven years till 2006.

Then came My glorious Malaysia; Unity is the core of success; People first, performance now; 1Malaysia transforming the Nation and last year’s 1Malaysia successful transformation, prosperous people.

Because of you, Malaysia had the staying power to last seven years, following which the slogans have been too ‘political’.

In essence, what’s lacking in our M-Day slogans?

It’s the inspiration — something to inspire Malaysians.  Something to inspire more Yi Liangs to venture boldly into territory unknown to himself. Something to inspire a generation. Something we can take as our own story.

The outlook has not reached that optimum level for me to look forward  to something that inspires and motivates.

At the very least, can I have something sentimental like the singalong of Hey Jude  by Beatle Paul McCartney to whip up some Merdeka joy in August?

Wistful thinking?  Perhaps. But we shall see.