And… the prize for the most creative and moving effort to celebrate Malaysia Day goes to Pete Teo and his team. Yesterday they released the video “Hari Malaysia: Kembara” online, and it’s a five-minute feat that will make you feel warm, fuzzy and sad all at the same time.
Taking archive footage from Merdeka in 1957, “Hari Malaysia: Kembara” inserts modern Malaysian figures into history, creating a time capsule set to an original and poignant song performed by Asmidar. Without dictating to the audience or falling into sentimental clichés, the film quietly asks us to reflect on the progress and setbacks of the last fifty years.
Musician and filmmaker Teo first conceptualised the film earlier this year. Writing on the film’s website, he says, “Although we would only become Malaysia in 1963, Tunku’s Merdeka speech clearly outlined the foundations of our country. Yet subsequent years have often seen us falter in the high principles that he envisioned. To the extent that modern Malaysia is a mixed bag of beauty and filth, I began to wonder if Tunku was alive today what he would make of us.”
The film features recognisable faces from the world of politics and performance, such as Ambiga Sreenevasan, Michelle Yeoh, Nazir Tun Abdul Razak, Lim Kit Siang, Sofia Jane, Jo Kukathas, Namewee and even the late Yasmin Ahmad.