Music or the art of song has forever been part of a culture’s identity, even that of a civilization. For instance, if we want to recall meaningful moments in our lives, almost every event can be connected to a specific melody or song. Likewise in another week or two, a series of Hari Raya songs celebrating Aidilfitri will ring in the air. Clearly, music is subtly intertwined with our personal memories and often reminds us of a moment, a memory, a hope or piece of history.
The art of song can also spur us to a better future by igniting hope, a sense of respect for one another and a sense of personal responsibility. Also, the art of song can also unite diverse groups with one commonly enjoyed melody. In fact, I confidently believe that through the right songs, lyrics and melodies are capable of serving an important and unique role in fostering a sense of togetherness.
The idea of a song contest was born from my desire to interact more closely with the rakyat by identifying a song made by the people, chosen by the people for the people. I also felt that we must continue to seek songs that possess Malaysian qualities, but with a contemporary and relevant rhythm, that can motivate us to shape our character as a collective through our diversity and multi-ethnicity.
From the early days of taking over the government administration and mooting the 1malaysia concept, I had harboured hopes to see songs composed with the potential to enhance unity among our diverse Malaysian people. As a result, through the “Our 1Malaysia Song” competition, we arrived at 10 finalists from over 350 entries. What satisfied and delighted me the most was the response to this contest which drew the interest of Malaysians of various ethnicities, professions and age.
This is the impetus of the 1Malaysia culture in its truest sense. Its meaning in this context is that the 1Malaysia concept has begun to seep into all levels of society and has evidently been interpreted artistically and lyrically in songs created by Malaysians, voted for by Malaysians.
I personally spent some time to listen to these songs penned by the finalists, who not only comprise amateurs but also some musicians of note. I enjoyed them all and even listened repeatedly to some of the songs while studying the lyrics. Nonetheless, what matters more is the sense of national pride instilled through these songs. It appears then that the government’s aspirations to continue fostering unity has been embraced and understood through the expression and interpretation in their song and lyrics.