On 31 August 1957, Malaysia officially became an independent nation. To signify the nation’s independence from the British rule, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, declared ‘Merdeka!’ to thunderous applause from the thousands that gathered at Merdeka Stadium on that historic Saturday.
That iconic and historical moment is a firm imprint on the minds of Malaysians. The moment Tunku Abdul Rahman, also known as Bapa Kemerdekaan Malaysia (Malaysia’s Father of Independence) and the nation’s first Prime Minister took to the podium to rally the crowd, the world witnessed Malaya as it was known then, being born.
Like any newborn nation, Malaysia too had to find its feet before establishing, defining and shaping its identity. On the backs of its multi-cultural society and rich natural resources, the country began its journey. Immediately after achieving independence, considerable efforts and investments were channelled towards building and enhancing its infrastructure.
The first five years saw the completion of the Klang Gates Dam, Stadium Negara and Parliament House. In the 1960s and 1970s, the building of the Subang International Airport and East-West Highway further improved connectivity for its people and to the world. The decade that followed saw numerous Rural Development Projects such as the FELDA and FELCRA settlements being set up under the New Economic Policy (NEP).
Rapid development in the following decades further enhanced Malaysia’s infrastructure. The completion of the North-South Expressway and Penang Bridge ensured better connectivity in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Malaysia continued to be highlighted on the world map with record-breaking achievements in construction featuring both the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower.
The establishment of the Multimedia Super Corridor further expedited the nation’s credentials in fulfilling its high-technology credentials whilst the completion of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) effectively solidified Malaysia as a regional air transport hub.
In the last 20 years, Malaysia continued to advance; various infrastructure projects such as the Express Rail Link (ERL), SMART Tunnel and East Coast Expressway advanced connectivity. Now, 65 years after gaining its independence, Malaysia continues spearhead its infrastructure development, which is a cornerstone of its economic advancement and aspirations.
The 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025) is proof of that intent in creating a vibrant future for the country as well as its people. RM400 billion has been allocated towards existing and new developments which are designed to nurture growth for foreign investment. In the next few years, we will see both the East Coast Rail Link project and the 5,500 kilometre Pan-Borneo Highway in East Malaysia reach its completion.
The completion of both Merdeka 118 and Tun Razak Exchange – the capital’s newest and brightest towers will further transform the landscape of the city. These monumental buildings will also serve as a catalyst for growth and development, especially in the surrounding areas and precincts they are situated in.
Constantly looking ahead, Malaysia is also fully committed towards green development and eco-friendly technologies to help mitigate climate change and to create a better tomorrow for its future generations. The nation’s intent to be a carbon-neutral country by 2050 will be fuelled by renewable energy and decarbonisation efforts by government-linked entities, namely Petronas, Tenaga Nasional and Sarawak Energy.
Still, despite the rapid expansion and infrastructural efforts that have been orchestrated thus far, what truly makes Malaysia is its people and the camaraderie displayed by those who call this country their home. We saw and experienced that first-hand in the past two years, a time period where Malaysia underwent extreme challenges brought upon by the pandemic.
With numerous movement restrictions and SOPs put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19, Malaysians had to quickly adapt to the ‘new normal’. Despite our way of life along with businesses being affected, our “can-do spirit” of Malaysia Boleh allowed us to weather this unforeseen storm.
It was during this challenging time that Malaysia came together as one. Helping one another out and supporting each other whenever we could, the nation endured, showcasing unity and the spirit of togetherness to truly become a Malaysian family.
Efforts such as #JomDerma, a fund-raising effort by the RHB Banking Group, which was powered through technology, allowed Malaysians to support charities in seamless and effective ways. All they had to do was simply scan a QR code via the RHB Mobile Banking app or any e-wallet app on their smartphones to channel much needed help in an instant.
As the country enters the endemic phase, we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although by no means are we out of the woods just yet, we’re all in with the process of recovery and rebuilding. And the work to help and support one another hasn’t waned at all.
Focusing on the SMEs which are the backbone of the Malaysian economy, RHB’s #JomSapot initiative continues to drive efforts to revitalise local businesses. Designed to help SMEs from all sectors, the platform allows consumers to pledge their support for these Malaysian businesses. #JomSapot also allows businesses to gain a wider reach along with an expanded customer base.
To further showcase the spirit of togetherness, the RHB Banking Group orchestrated a joint campaign between #JomSapot and the Star Media Group’s (SMG) BeliLokal. Aimed to support Malaysian businesses and spur the nation’s economic recovery, the collaborative campaign dubbed #JomSapot BeliLokal provides an added boost for local businesses by allowing them to capitalise on new business opportunities via free product listings on RHB’s #JomSapot and SMG’s BeliLokal for six months.
Local businesses will also get the opportunity to promote their products and services to consumers at no additional cost while reaching a broader audience through the digital and print extensions of The Star as well as radio via 988FM. RHB customers who participate and support local merchants via #JomSapot BeliLokal, can also earn valuable loyalty points to redeem exclusive gifts and vouchers.
Since its 2020 launch, #JomSapot has effectively provided a much needed lifeline for local businesses. To date, the platform has helped over 8,300 outlets operated by SMEs in Malaysia from various industry segments. For those of you who want to show your solidarity and support towards the initiative, please visit www.rhbjomsapot.my to be a part of the #JomSapotBeliLokal campaign.
As we head towards celebrating Malaysia’s 65th year of independence on 31 August 2022, we are assured that despite the recent challenging years, we have emerged stronger and more united as a nation than ever before. In the spirit of Merdeka, let’s continue to look towards the future and to keep the Malaysian dream alive as one nation by helping and supporting one another in times of need.
Selamat Hari Merdeka to one and all and let’s keep striving to build this great country of ours.