Good ol’ days. Old is gold? Lost Paradise of Childhood

Old is gold? May be Allah/God has granted some of the old persons’ day dream of longing for Good ol’ days or searching back the Lost Paradise of Childhood. Above is the Myanmar song, “Childhood” or Lost “Paradise” by Sai Htee Saing

Myanmar song, “Nature Kids” by Sai Htee Saing live show


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Good ol’ days? It’s never been this good
I spent a few useless hours this week listening to old television theme songs on Youtube. And listening to the old tunes — from “Rockford Files”, “Magnum PI”, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Mash” to “Macgyver”, “St Elsewhere”, “Cheers” and “Taxi” — was like listening to the theme music of my life as I grew up.

It would have been so easy for me to say television was better when I was growing up than what it is now. It would also have been so easy to say that music was better then — to be one of those guys I know who go on and on about how music used to be better.

You know the type — they sit around and moan about today’s television and music. The ones who stopped buying or listening new music once they reach 30.

They are the ones who say young people today listen to rubbish, just like what their parents said about them. These are the people who will probably tell you and me that Malaysians were more harmonious, that every one lived like that gang on the old RTM show “Empat Sekawan”.

Don’t worry if you have never heard of “Empat Sekawan”. It was one of those shows people growing up in the 1970s and 1980s had no choice but to watch.

Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed my childhood. It brings a smile to my face when I think of the times I spent in front of the television with my father or mother. Hours of cheesy television programmes with the family was what counted as quality time.

And it was a good time we had. Some people I know also go on and on about how life was better when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was our prime minister. Some older guys may even say that life was better when Tunku Abdul Rahman was the big man.

Well, let me say this — life was not better. Life is better today because every new generation of Malaysians has challenged the establishment and moved the country forward. In the 1960s, some middle-class Malaysians would say life was good because everyone got along.

No, they did not. Else the race riots of May 13 would not have happened. In the past year, race relations have been put to the test like never before.

We have started challenging stereotypes and sensitive subjects like race and religion harder than ever. And no race riot has happened. Well, not yet anyway, I hear some people say.

I cannot say for certain that things like that will not happen, but I do know that we should still continue challenging things. If no one challenged the Catholic Church, we would still believe the world was flat.

There are those who say there is less press freedom today in Malaysia. Here’s the thing — all governments want to control information. Even in the United States, the government still tries to keep people from knowing too much, with a variety of reasons or excuses.

Perhaps the difference between Americans and Malaysians is that more of them are willing to challenge their government for the freedoms they have.

In Malaysia today, there are countless newspapers and — because of the Internet — online news sites, including this one. This happened because Malaysians want more information, and because with each generation life changes and gets better.

Those old newspaper editors I know who moan and groan about how newspapers were better before are living in the past.

In my career as a journalist I have known many of these old editors. They whine about how standards have slipped today.

That’s rich coming from old men who could not put two sentences together without a grammatical error in their copy. I know; I checked their stories.

I am confident some of the young reporters working under me today are better than I was at their age. And they can only get better.

Every generation is an improvement on the previous. I am better than my father, and my children will be better than me. It’s evolution.

I mentioned Dr Mahathir a few paragraphs back. And I would like to say that while this man did a lot of good, his was an oppressive, tumultuous and somewhat undemocratic administration. We are still paying the economic and political price for some of his bigger mistakes.

So was Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi better? He allowed more freedoms but he also did not do much governing, if you ask me.

Is Datuk Seri Najib Razak better? I believe he is trying to be better but I am not sure how he will be judged until after he retires.

I will say one thing. The rise of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has resulted in Barisan Nasional (BN) getting some serious competition. Competition is always good for the customer. It gives us a choice. It makes the two political alliances strive harder for our affections. And that has to be good.

It is just like television. In the good old days, there was only RTM. Every night we watched whatever RTM dished out to us, just as we accepted whatever BN governments offered us. Then came TV3, and that was followed by NTV7, 8TV and Astro. Oh, I almost forgot, the Internet also competes for our time nowadays.

Life is great. I get to choose what I want to watch. Some of these programmes are on television, others are on the Internet. Then there are DVDs and downloads, too.

My favourite television shows in recent years have been “The Wire”, “Generation Kill”, “Lost” and “The Closer”. My favourite singer is Bruce Springsteen, but I also like The Clash, Coldplay, U2, Gwen Stefani, Beyonce, Duffy and Lady Ga Ga.

I look forward to watching even better television and listening to more music just as I look forward to a better, brighter future.

I am not sure if it means BN or PR is in charge of this country. That future is still to be written.

It is up to us to make it better.

Leslie Lau is consultant editor to The Malaysian Insider

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