…and HOW EXACTLY has patriotism among youth declined significantly?

Patriotism: “devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country; national loyalty.”

– American Psychological Association (APA):patriotism. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved April 13, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/patriotism

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Monday April 14:
2008 Govt study: Youngsters just ain’t patriotic By IAN MCINTYRE

BACHOK: A recent Government study has revealed that patriotism levels among youth in the country have declined significantly and if left unchecked, could lead to serious consequences for nation building. 
 
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the revelation has forced the ministry to re-look its policy on how to engage youth.The Government has admitted it has lost the support of youths and has been unable to reach out to the technology-savvy generation, he said. “We need to adapt to changing needs and lifestyles. For starters, we need to re-instill patriotism in youths regardless of their ethnicity or religious backgrounds,” he said during his inaugural working visit to the east coast state. Earlier, he held dialogues with youth department officers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the youth skills institute here.

Ismail said the ministry would now be “result-orientated” with a specific goal of restoring confidence among the young in the Government. This would include the ministry setting up its own blog as well as channeling funds directly to all youth associations, including youth-based NGOs in the country.

“We have decided to reduce bureaucracy. From now on, all funding for youth NGOs and associations will come directly from the ministry. “We would ensure the grassroots have funds to conduct activities for youths,” he said. Character-building programmes that instil patriotism are also needed to shore up support among youths, Ismail said.

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I wonder, which specific parts of patriotism would be instilled into the youth, ‘regardless of their ethnicity and religious background’. I’m sure the powers that be are aware that a patriot can also be described as a person who regards themselves as defender, esp of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal govt. Not my own words, mind you. Go ahead and dictionary.com it and you’ll be able to see for yourself.

I’d like to hear the youths’ point of view on what does patriotism mean to them. Do they have the same images in their minds as I do? Perhaps they also see that the opposite of being patriotic can be described by the words treacherous, backstabbing, faithless, miserly or selfish.

How would our youths view the ‘result-oriented’ specific goal of restoring confidence in the Government among the young, as quoted in the article? What element are we focusing on, to restore confidence in? I am too old to be naive, to young to be cynical. Even then, if I were to be asked to have confidence in a body, to re-instill patriotism in my heart, I want to see a body that’s honorable, incorruptible, dependable, public-spirited, unselfish.

When I was in school, it was a tradition for the 5th formers to circle the dorm and school blocks at midnight on Merdeka day. When it was our turn, my fellow form-mates and I gathered at the netball court with our lanterns. At the stroke of midnight, we started to sing the National Anthem. Being rather far from each other, our voices sounded soft and reedy in the beginning. Then, somehow, they became stronger, and the words became clearer too, all the way until the end of the song. I don’t remember much of what happened after that. What I do remember is, for the first time, I heard not just the voice from my voice box, but also the voice from my heart. I felt the words for the first time. And I knew then, if I need to drop everything to defend my country, I would, and I would defend my homeland even with my bare hands.

This is a love that goes beyond ‘ethnicity and religious background’, and I wish the MORONS would just stop using that phrase. For me:

Negaraku, tanah tumpahnya darahku

Rakyat hidup bersatu dan maju

Rahmat bahagia Tuhan kurniakan

Raja kita selamat bertakhta.

Always.

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