By KAREN NEOH
Though I wasn’t there at Stadium Merdeka 57 years ago (my mom was!) I know I would have stood proud to be Malaysian then as I do today. Thanks to my parents and to God, I have had the opportunity to study, live and work abroad but without fail, like a homing pigeon, I have come home.
What does it mean to be Malaysian? In the first few decades of my life, there wasn’t a need to define it. We were all infused with that sense of belonging and identity, and when we wavered, a healthy dose of manglish always set us straight.
Every Merdeka, I am reminded of a wonderful wee woman. Years ago, in an affluent part of town, I was slashed by muggers and left for dead. Homeowners peered over their fences and locked gates. The only people who dared approach me were their domestic workers, with helpful drinks of water and gobs of paper to mop up my blood. In my book, leaders. Courage, compassion, community.
Then she appeared. Admonishing her apathetic neighbours, she bundled me into her car and sped to Pantai Hospital. “You pray to your God. I’ll pray to mine,” she hollered. True Malaysian.
Our Datuk Nicol David and Datuk Lee Chong Wei. I can feel the hearts of every Malaysian collectively soar with every winning stroke, and everyone simultaneously erupt in tears at the sight of our badminton hero at the Olympics.
More recently, the reaction of Malaysians to the downing of our plane, our brothers and sisters, our guests, has proven again that we as a nation, have the will and desire to be united.
Leaders come in all shapes and sizes
There are countless Malaysian heroes. So much so we are featuring them in both this Merdeka issue, as well as our issue for Malaysia Day. On the career front, we focus on the important topic of engagement, and what role we play as employers or employees in nurturing this essential ingredient for peak performance.
We hope that as you enjoy quality time with family and friends this weekend, you spare some time to think of how you can be a leader in your home, community, school and workplace to lead our country to greater heights. After all “sedikit-sedikit, lama-lama jadi bukit”. Starting with me, then another, let’s work towards building communities of love.