KUALA LUMPUR – The lifestyle of today’s society has changed a lot due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit the world as people embrace new norms. Malaysia in no exception.
The impact is also felt in this year’s National Day celebrations on Aug 31 which will definitely be historic for Malaysians, when for the first time, parades and events are carried out according to new norms and will only be broadcast on television.
Bernama’s survey around the capital also found that there was less excitement in the flying of the Jalur Gemilang as not many were installed on office buildings, department stores and vehicles as well as houses as it used to be.
Commenting on the matter, social activist, Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Shatar Sabran said society’s focus had completely changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thus refuting the argument that the people lack the spirit of love for the country.
Therefore, he said, the people were more comfortable celebrating the 63rd National Day in moderation, much like other recent festivities.
Mohammad Shatar who is also the Vice Chancellor of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) says, 2020 is an extraordinary year because the whole world is hit by the pandemic and it is a matter of life and death.
“The people are not unpatriotic but their focus is on the pandemic which has brought out a sense of trauma, phobia and fear.
“The emergence of various new clusters lately has made the people even more cautious,” he told Bernama.
Still, Mohammad Shatar encouraged the public to install the Jalur Gemilang in their homes to enliven the celebration of this historic day while embracing the new norms.
“At least, the atmosphere will be livelier and since it is installed in our own homes it will not expose us to the risk of infection.
“If we used to gather and march, now we try to comply with standard operating procedures (SOP) such as physical distancing when celebrating,” he said.
Adam Iman Azmi, 19, thinks that today’s society is wise to take advantage of the use of technology, especially social media, to show the spirit of patriotism.
The second semester student majoring in Computer Science from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) said that among the most popular social media followed by many was Twitter where many social media users put emoticons of the Malaysian flag.
“I think today’s society chooses not to fly the Jalur Gemilang physically but to turn to the virtual world.
“This is a new culture in line with the passage of time where the younger generation is more synonymous and closer to the cyberspace and this is also our way of expressing the spirit of love for the country,” he said.
Sharing his sentiment is Azlina Johari, 32, who describes the posting of the Jalur Gemilang on social media as an interesting idea as the Internet and social media are a universal platform.
“By right, we should be flying the Jalur Gemilang throughout the year without having to wait for the National Month celebration or similar campaigns. When this sense of patriotism is instilled in us, that means we have fully embraced it,” she said.