MALAYSIANS were thrilled last week to see a visual of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong joining the rakyat in a queue at a food outlet in Temerloh. It went viral and netizens were generous with their comments.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong is known to be mesra rakyat (people-friendly) and this came as more “live” evidence – and eating with his fingers together with Raja Permaisuri Agong – in case anyone had any doubts.
This may be the case especially after several unpleasant reports of Malaysians being slighted, even hurt, when they were lumped together as “sparrows” in contrast to “eagles” in a demeaning way.
To add insult to injury, the sparrows were reminded not to dream beyond the height of the grass where only the eagles can soar. The former were also instructed not to emulate the latter in any way, as it was claimed to be not within their “birth right”.
Such an incident though rare left a marked impact on a country that is seriously struggling to break down barriers and divisions among its citizens.
In another case, the insistence on a dress code left one “dumbfounded”. More so given the timing of Hari Raya where thousands were hard pressed to find something decent to put on to mark the auspicious occasion. It leaves a bad taste when such insensitive remarks are made.
Hence, when theYang di-Pertuan Agong mingled casually among ordinary citizens and ordered food from the same menu, the “sparrow-eagle” comparison lost its relevance.
It was reduced to an egoistical exaggeration reflecting an inferior psyche limited to some individuals. And this overextended to boost their sagging morale by hitting out at all and sundry when metaphorically pitting the sparrow against the eagle as it were, and unnecessarily so.
Elsewhere, this writer has argued not to underestimate the sparrow.
As small is beautiful, there is much that we do not know about the “spirit animal” as other cultures respectfully refer to the sparrow.
To them it stands for freedom, dignity and courage, yet unlike the eagle, which is a “predator”, sparrows are not.
In fact, they work together in support of each another and never fly alone. They are known to fend off animals like bears and wolves, even bigger birds, to ensure their survival.
Taken to its logical conclusion, they can outlive their predatory counterparts generally listed as “endangered”.
But now that the “eagle” has landed, figuratively speaking, among the sparrows.
The act that spoke more than just words; exuding warmness and cordiality that melts barriers – real or perceived – as a sign of confidence, maturity and humility – fit qualities for a King.
Much to the delight of Malaysians who have long held the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and his consort, Raja Permaisuri Agong, in high esteem as the sovereign symbol of the nation and its loyal subjects.
Indeed, on various occasions, the royal couple were reportedly spotted among the rakyat for example in a supermarket, sometimes pushing their own shopping carts as security personnel looked on leaving the ambient intact as it were.
Such public display of decorum was delightfully embraced by citizens with a lot of pride as the much awaited leadership as exemplified by the following pantun.
Burung helang terbang tinggi, unggas pipit terbang rendah. Jika pandai merendah hati, rakyat turut berasa megah
(Eagles fly high, sparrows fly low. By being truly humble, Malaysians are equally proud to show)
Burung helang terbang tinggi, unggas pipit terbang rendah. Sikap beradab gerak dan geri, rakyat sambut menjunjung sembah
(Gentle gestures smoothed by decorum, Malaysians warmly reciprocate and eager to follow)
With some four decades of experience in education, the writer believes that “another world is possible”. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org