After 55 years of Independence or Merdeka, I see that people become more and more insensitive or lukewarm to the anniversary celebration. I don't see flags flying around on cars and busses, fluttering atop building, and the whole city being lighted up. The centers of activity for the celebration are few and numbered. It's not like the whole nation rises up in pride and jubilation.
I keep thinking that this is probably due to the fact that government is handling everything. The Merdeka celebration is fully orchestrated by government, from arranging the parade, the processions, the music, the dances, etc. We pick the schoolchildren to do most of the stage-filling jobs, the acrobatics (if you can call it so) but more like becoming the pom-pom dancers. Actual participation by the people and the crowd is practically nill. You only go to the Merdeka Square to watch, almost the same same thing every time, sometimes tolerating the sun or the rain. So, it's not surprising if people chose to stay at home and watch everything on TV.
How to allow people to participate actively in the processions and all the shows? The organizers need to think about that, inviting every form of participation that people want. Musical performances along the street by professional or amateur bands with dance group to invite participation from the crowd could be a draw. Street dancing in fancy dresses could be another crowd puller with free participation from the crowd, moving along determined routes around the Square. Even opposition groups could be allowed to participate by mounting their own shows, with participation from the crowd and no 'ceramah' or politicking. ( Who wants to listen anyway when dancing and singing is the order of the day or night.}
Whatever it is we have to break away from the old tradition of presenting cut-n-dry performances, exploiting the schoolchildren under the rubric of participation, and limiting the participation of companies and agencies to a semi-fancy dress march through probably accompanied by a float. Why don't we allow them to perform in whatever way they want to entertain the crowd. Such entertainment could even start on the eve of the anniversary.
I feel that the Merdeka celebration should also allow Malaysians to show their artistic talents, express their joy and pride in whatever way they want under the light and within the premise of the Merdeka Square. People don't want to be mere spectators anymore, they want a piece of the action. Isn't that what merdeka is all about?