At exactly 09:30 on 31 August 1957, the declaration was read by the first Chief Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman at the Merdeka Stadium. 59 years later, our nation is a step closer to a developed status. BAZAAR is honouring Malaysia’s Independence with a special series #Merdeka2016xBAZAAR where we seek fellow Malaysians near and far on five moments, items, tokens, anecdotes that have shaped their identity as a proud Malaysian.
Shareen Ramli is the modern day embodiment of your every woman. She has a human touch that is innate and genuine. A lady of many esteemed labels from songstress to musician to entrepreneur – Shareen bears many hats, but perhaps most prominently which she wears with pride is Malaysian.
1. | Social community activities with my friends at Projek 57
My friends Sadiq and Collin (founders, as per image below) are so passionate about the movement of hope for our nation built on core values of Tolerance, Diversity, Progression and Unity, it is so moving (pun intended?). Their activities always include the singing of our NegaraKu with fellow Malaysians, and that gives me goosebumps (the good kind) and makes my eyes well up every time!
2. | Open Houses
We are extremely fortunate to be able to share a crazy amount of various community celebrations that grow here in Malaysia, and the concept of sharing extends to their homes as well. I always look forward to the festive invitations and get excited like a little child waiting for Christmas morning (sometimes I still get little angpow packets, grin!) and feel so lucky we have so many all year round! You can be sure to be pampered with the best home cooked dishes, the most elaborate décor (and sometimes singing and dancing), and the biggest, brightest bear hugs!
But the best sharing moment that I have seen during these open houses would be the sharing of food, home, and smiles of the fortunate with the more unfortunate families, no matter who you are. You can walk into their homes and be sure of some love. We do that in Kuching a lot, and you can see how the village children enjoy getting coloured drinks in glasses and cakes that go on for days. And how can you forget those who open their homes and heart to you? I don’t forget their smiles either.
3. | Our Rainforest
Perhaps its the jungle Borneo blood that runs through my veins, but I think we have the most magical rainforest in the world. If you are into nature and the outdoors as much as I am, it is luscious, it is made of adventure, and it is rejuvenating (take it from me, I am quite the princess and need comfort but I love this much, much more!)
My favourite moments often take me back to Kuching, and sometimes just a drive into a cave site or Damai is good enough to bring that “Aaah” feeling back to you. My most recent memory however is closer to KL, at a gem of a secret on the way to Fraser’s Hill in KKB, called the Sticks. Best thing? River, waterfall so close, and comfort? Its glam camping all the way.
4. | School
A little old school I am, but as I get older, I am thanking God everyday for my Convent days. Definitely a top moment for me as a Malaysian, to be in school with so many that were so different, but yet to us, we were all the same, sang same songs, learnt same things and share friendships till today. We have grown so much that way, because our experiences of other cultures and people are tenfold, at the age where it mattered most.
5. | A Malaysian Hub
It’s so funny that timing is everything. And as I am writing this piece on favourite Malaysian moments, I have just embarked on another new project with my dearest stepmum (I have a very modern family, perhaps another favourite Malaysian thing of mine) and one of my special best friends, Nori; celebrating Malaysian art, the design (KitaKita) and food kind (Siti Li Food Studio @ KitaKita).
Everyday, it’s making me more and more proud of where I am from, and I want to do so much more for our future. Watch this space?