Emily Tan
Aug 28, 2015

Malaysian advertisers asked to drop 'Merdeka' from ads

KUALA LUMPUR - Advertisers have been asked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to refrain from using the word 'Merdeka' (independence) when referring to the country's national day, which takes place Monday.

Advertisers have been asked to replace 'Merdeka' (Independence) with 'Kebangsaan' (Freedom)
Advertisers have been asked to replace 'Merdeka' (Independence) with 'Kebangsaan' (Freedom)

Instead, advertisers have been asked to use the word "kebangsaan" or "national" and refer to the day as Hari Kebangsaan (National Day) instead of the more traditioanally used Hari Merdeka (Independence Day).

Advertisers have also been asked to avoid mentioning that this is Malaysia's 58th year of independence.

Source: Cilisos

The letter published online by Malaysian site Cilisos has resulted in confusion among netizens and a few consipiracy theories involving the ban on the word 'Independence' or 'Freedom' (its alternate meaning) ahead of the Bersih Rally this weekend. 

This sentiment is not without basis as the Malaysian government has been acting both directly and indirectly to avert the rally. Now in its fourth year, the peaceful rally for a free and fair elections has drawn steadily larger crowds each year. The last one, in 2012, drew a reported 300,000 people. 

With Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak embroiled in a controversy around corruption and the misappropriation of state funds, this year's rally is expected to be even larger. The financial title that broke the news, The Edge Malaysia, has since had its print edition suspended by the government for three months

However, a spokesperson for the MCMC explained to Campaign Asia-Pacific that the change was made so the event would be more inclusive of Malaysia's Borneo states—Sabah and Sarawak. 

While Peninsular Malaysia (and Singapore) gained independence from the United Kingdom on August 31, 1957, Sabah and Sarawak only joined the federation in 1963. The forming of the federation is celebrated as Malaysia Day on 16 September. 

However, last year, the event on 31 August was celebrated in Sarawak where it was pointed out that the use of the word "Merdeka" and the reference to "57-years" was not inclusive of Sabah and Sarawak. 

So moving ahead, the government would prefer that the event be made more inclusive and renamed Hari Kebangsaan, explained the spokesperson. 


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