Negaraku: The Sonic Totem of the Nusantara (Part Two)

By Shazlin Hamzah

May 2023 FEATURE
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THE ATMOSPHERE WAS abuzz as the resonant “Merdeka” call rang in the newly built Stadium Merdeka. It was 1957. Malaya, the newly independent nation, needed not only visible totems to represent and serve as a distinctive mark of the community, but it was also imperative that this symbol be a sonic one.After the Alliance coalition won the first federal elections in 1955, it was clear to Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was then chief minister of the Federation of Malaya, that...

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Shazlin Hamzah

is a research fellow with the Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA). She just wrote a book with the title Wajah Malaysia Dalam Gurindam Lagu-lagu that explores the notion of nation branding vis-à-vis the role of patriotic songs from the 1950s-60s.