A country is formed by commitment.
I thought about it hard and long, and the long thing that binds all countries is their respective desires to commit to a country.
It does not matter if the country is invaded – like how the people how the American colonies freed themselves from the yolk of a distant government they share a heritage with. Or if the many parts of a country which share a larger identity with each other – as how the Germany was formed from the various municipalities, cities and monarchies numbering more than 100. Or by a common colonial past – like the nation of indonesia which is a collection of all the islands under Dutch rule.
Qualify the commitment
Now the tricky part starts.
How would you qualify a commitment?
The easiest way, is time. But it is unreliable. The Act of Union in 1707 brought England and Scotland under one sovereign but that did not impede the need for autonomous rule that the incoming Blair government in 97 did not use to win votes in their victorious campaign. There is now a Scottish and Welsh parliament, even if they are all part of the same country.
Time is contentious, unless in that time there forms enough cohesive elements to built a national identity from. Italians were never really a country until Garibaldi, they were a collection of cities or under Rome before. But the collective sense they built over the centuries enabled them to carve a nation out of all the principalities and cities.
However in modern Italy there are divisions. The Northern League still is convinced there is a cultural divide that keeps them from being completely Italians. As do the Siciallians.
Nay, however you look at it, the commitment has to be face on some universal truth which would bind free men. Lands don’t have people as a requirement to be lands. And you need land for a country. Yet the error lies in thinking that the having of land is what a country is made of.
The Malaysian state
It is worthwhile to revisit the commitment my countrymen made to this country.
Everyone talks about the constitution, but they always negate that the constitution is a derivative of the 1948 federation of Malaya constitution plus with the Reid Commission’s proposal.
The key component is that most Malaysians were not party to it. i do not mean all citizens living today. In 1948 to 1957 when laws were crafted – The Malayans living there were not completely party to its construction.
So the commitment we talk about is enforced on Malaysia rather than what Malaysia looked for. Most Malaysian activists opposing British presence were kept away or tried as dangers to the colonial outpost.
Malaysia as a concept cobbles about, because much of what it is has been patronisingly placed on us. By a feudal class.
The reason why we are always divided by race and religion is because the continuous debate all nations undergo as a nation building exercise has been sorely missing in the young and middle years of this country.
Nation building is a collective process, not one dictated or controlled by a few. It is the ill-origin of this nation that most of its inhabitants feel largely aggrieved about. It is the internal contradictions in key concepts and meanings that handicaps this nation.
A nation is its people – not the land. And when swathes of changes and development are carried out with the constant consent of its people in true form, then the country and its institutions are oppressive tools.
The Malaysian people need a new compact, unless that – then the National flag has no takers. And that is far worse than losing land and its people flailing along as the compas goes meeting.
Malaysia is ebbing towards a reason lacking.