There is growing trend in Malaysia to institute changes merely for the sake of change. Name changes from buildings and roads and now to anthems should not be treated in such a casual manner. It may be done only if there is a drastic need and even then only after much thought, discussion with and consensus among the people.
The Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Secretary-General Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib is reported to have said that “ the government felt that the song was lacking in spirit and wanted to change it to one with a more upbeat rhythm”. Such an opinion, even if it is a considered one is, to me, not a drastic need. Moreover, it would not have been launched by non-other than the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail himself at Dataran Merdeka on Aug 20, 2006 if the song had been “lacking in spirit” in the first place.
I believe that change is a good and pragmatic thing which is sometimes inevitable and more so in physical areas like infrastructure, healthcare, technology and so on. But in areas such as the arts, culture and tradition there has to be much caution exercised and with much due reverence. Music together with the other arts definitely gives a “face” and a cultural identity to any nation. It evolves slowly over time but “artificially” changing things in short time frames is not a wise thing to do.
Take for instance, U.K’s “God Save the King/Queen” that has been around since 1745 or even the U.S.A. which is considered a less conservative nation that have not changed their national anthems since first adopted. We changed our own “Negara Ku” not too long ago to a faster paced march tempo and it is now back again to singing it as it used to be in the past since 1957 in a slower and more majestically paced tempo to match its grace and dignity. The changing of anthems should not be done at the whim and fancy of anyone including the government of the day. A level of “sacredness” has to be observed and attached to such national hallmarks.