HOW STARS CELEBRATE MALAYSIA DAY
Celebrating the country’s triumphs and cherishing sacrifices of its forefathers, local artistes dish out on what Malaysia Day means to them and how they celebrate it. DENNIS CHUA has the story
MALAYSIA Day will not be complete without patriotic films and documentaries, for they make Malaysians appreciate the meaning of independence and nationhood.
Veteran actor Zakaria Ahmad, better known as A. Galak, believes that commemorating Malaysia Day does not merely mean waving the Jalur Gemilang and witnessing the parades in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu or Kuching.
“A true celebration of Malaysia Day, like Merdeka, is remembering the sacrifices of the country’s freedom fighters, who worked hard to free us from foreign rule, and the pioneers of all races, who built up the modern economy through hard work,” he said.
Galak, 76, known for playing Sarjan Misai in Gerak Khas, has, since 2009, watched Malaysia Day parades in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching that are broadcast live by RTM.
“I cannot imagine National Day and Malaysia Day without the parades in Dataran Merdeka, Kuching Stadium and Dataran Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu,” he said.
“I also look forward to viewing Malaysia Day documentaries and patriotic films. This year, I will watch The Malay Regiment, which is about our soldiers who fought communist.”
Galak does not star in the historical film, but his Gerak Khas co-star, Z. Zamri, has a major role as an army officer.
“I am in Abang Long Fadil 2, playing a master criminal. It is not about patriotism, but it shows how police risk their lives to keep the country safe from crime lords, like my character.”
Another veteran actor, Faizal Hussein, also celebrates Malaysia Day by watching the annual parades on television. He also watches the latest films and documentaries.
“I watch Merdeka and Malaysia Day parades on TV with my family as a tradition,” he said.
He said his parents had reminded him that Merdeka and Malaysia Day were not only about independence, but also striving as Bangsa Malaysia to achieve developed nation status in every aspect of life.
He said his father, screen legend Hussein Abu Hassan, did the country proud when the latter starred in Hong Kong film Bewitched in 1981.
Faizal has outdone his father by appearing in two internationally screened films, Bunohan in 2012 and Mrs K, currently in cinemas.
“I take my craft seriously, and strive to put Malaysia on the cinematic map.
“I am fortunate to have been cast by filmmakers Dain Said of Bunohan and Ho Yuhang of Mrs K. Their work is testament to the spirit of Malaysia Day.”
He starred in Aziz M Osman’s patriotic film Leftenan Adnan (2000), which is based on the true story of Lieutenant Adnan Saidi who died fighting the Japanese in 1941.
Hussein starred in Tan Sri Jins Shamsudin’s Bukit Kepong (1981), the true story of 18 policemen who died defending the Bukit Kepong police station in Muar, Johor, from communists in 1950.
Oh My English! star Zain Saidin celebrates Malaysia Day by having buffet dinners with his loved ones in Klang Valley restaurants.
“This year is a special Malaysia Day because it concludes a brilliant Sea Games. Not only did we win, but we had an amazing opening and closing ceremony that celebrated Bangsa Malaysia,” he said.
He went to support the national football team in its match against Thailand, and although they did not win, Zain is proud that they showed true sportsmanship.
“Malaysia Day is not just our country’s birthday, it is also a time to cherish our most important asset, multiculturalism.”
He is glad that Malaysians now understand each other’s cultures better, and homegrown films are becoming more multiracial.
“We can cherish the spirit of Malaysia Day by fostering stronger ties between West and East Malaysia. It is heartening that many entertainers from East Malaysia, such as Dayang Nurfaizah and Tony Eusoff, are admired by Malaysians.”
He praised Astro for producing dramas such as Anak Merdeka, which depict the struggles of the country’s pioneers realistically.
“My favourite programmes every Malaysia Day are those which explore our history, food, culture and tourist attractions.
“Astro’s Negaraku campaign is a must-watch.”
Actor Syafiq Kyle admits he has yet to attend a parade or countdown, but Malaysia Day is meaningful to him.
“Malaysia Day is a time to reflect on what I can do to put my country on the map.
“My aim is to progress in my career until I can star in an international film.”
Zakaria Ahmad, also known as A. Galak.