Poetry, Politics

A freed slave

On every channel on every TV,
tonight, (unless you have cable), you’re bound to see
our aged PM, crying as he watches on his TV,
his father proud, shouting loud
to an expectant, roaring, rowdy crowd,
some fifty-nine years ago,
a simple word, full of gusto,


Meaning “slaves now freed”.
A middle finger to rampant greed.
A fist against despots and bloody tyrants.
A kick up colonial racist khaki pants.
A roar of fiery, defiant pride,
even though doubts, questions did then abide.


Back in nineteen fifty-nine,
battle-cry of your grandparents and mine,
A pledge to move mountains, no matter the cost
A will to unite, a national Pentecost.

Merdeka! But

now it is but an empty boast,
a conjuring of a feeble ghost,
in black and white, still haunting our screens
pacing the halls of power unseen.


Inch by newspaper column inch,
page by school text-book page,
frame by digital television frame,
stage by neon-lit, stage-managed stage


The cage has been rebuilt
in glass and gold, instead of steel.
A farce is now our common guilt:
freed slaves with but a feeble will.



Considering what the PAP government has done, I found the attempted rallying cry of “Merdeka” during today’s National Day Rally highly ironic.

I looked up the meaning of “Merdeka” online, and this is what I got from good ole’ Wikipedia:

Merdeka is the word in the Indonesian and Malay language meaning independent or free. It is derived from the Sanskrit maharddhika (महर्द्धिक) meaning “rich, prosperous and powerful”. In the Malay archipelago, this term had acquired the meaning of a freed slave.

The term Mardijker is a Dutch corruption of the Portuguese version of the original Sanskrit words and was used to designate former Portuguese and Dutch slaves from India in the East Indies, known as Mardijkers, whence the Malay meaning of “free(dom)” is derived.”

Unless you know French, you might need google translate for the last line.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s