Salam Merdeka, Malaysians. Here’s to our forefathers and the freedom fighters. We might be independent, but we are yet to be free.

We can’t even get our information freely—it doesn’t matter that information by itself wants to be free. The government wants to put a firewall and filter our internet out so that we can only read what they want us to.

The newspapers are blatantly controlled by the ruling parties: their news is our news. Whenever we try to speak our mind, when we try to dig for the truth, we will get silenced. Enter the sedition act.

I dread the days where they get their ways, and bloggers would have to be registered and profiled, just like sexual offenders.

We are not free to watch films we want, much less make the films we want. Films arrived on our shores badly-mangled with various cuts, despite the fact that we paid to watch over-18 films.

We can’t make films about mat rempits, about cross-dressers, about transsexuals. We can’t even make films about supernatural any more, lest we want to get admitted to a counselling seminar.

Last Friday before Merdeka, sermons were given so Muslims will strive to be free from the enemies of Islam. Ask me, and I will tell you that “Islam” and “free” had no business being in the same sentence, at least not in Malaysia.

Everyone with the slightest authority in Islam will try to dictate on what you should or should not do.

They will tell us that just because some of us are women, our opinions do not matter. Just because our principles are different from theirs, we’re deemed heretic who should attend rehabs.

It’s haram to do yoga, it’s haram for women to “look like men”, it’s haram to swear. For reasons so vague and ridiculous.

Don’t like something? Just complain to the National Fatwa Council. They have been so kind to grant fatwas forbidding the smallest of stuff just because “the public demands it” or “the public is confused”.

The simplest form of joy, music is restricted to us. Numerous artistes surely had refused offers to perform in our country in frustration over the silly decency rule. Muslims are banned from attending certain concerts just because the sponsors happened to be in the alcohol industry.

A little mention of concert sends them into a berserk, no matter that the band is harmless Michael Learns to Rock.

Muslims can’t contend in pageants. Muslims can’t do this. Muslims can’t do that.

It’s discrimination, that’s what it is. Only it’s worst since the prohibition comes from the same group getting the bans.

Why are you so bothered with what every soul will or will not do? If you’re saying that Islam is the religion of the free and willing, you’re not convincing me. Not when you’re prodding and crushing people into submission.

God forbid that you’re an infidel, then! You can never get a house of worship in peace. They will try to impose their morals on you whether you like it or not.

All these are just a small slice of the liberty we’re denied of. We are not even free from the shackles of racial-centric attitudes. Every race is paranoid of each other.

I am grateful for the efforts of our forefathers and every freedom fighters who had shed their blood, sweat and tears since time immemorial to make our country sovereign, but it’s time we move on from that. Individual rights and civil liberties should be our next target.

Am I proud though? Of being Malaysian? Not really, no. Not this year.

I won’t pretend to be merry for this year’s Merdeka. There’s nothing to be happy or proud about.

We love you so much, Malaysia. Why won’t you love us back?

Are enjoying this year’s Merdeka? Do you think that we’re doing okay and I’m just a depressing bugger? Leave your comments.

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