Grandad goes all out in show of love for country this Merdeka

Ben Tan
This year will see Johor-based businessman M. Kandapan’s double-story house in Bandar Seri Alam in Masai decked out in 5,000 flags in conjunction with Merdeka Day celebrations. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, Aug 30 — M. Kandapan is a serial decorator and is known to push the limits to indulge his hobby every year, especially for the National Day celebrations.

But the “semi-retired” businessman and grandfather of three broke out a record number of Jalur Gemilang flags to decorate his cars and double-storey linked house in Bandar Seri Alam near Masai this year.

“I just love spreading the Merdeka spirit and on top of decorating my house, I also bought flags for my neighbours and helped them put them up.

“This year is a record for me as I used a total of 5,000 flags. Previously, it was only 3,000 flags,” he said when met at his home.

Kandapan said money is not an issue for him, though Malay Mail understands that he sets aside more than RM25,000 for his yearly decorations.

Businessman M. Kandapan with his grandchildren and daughter K. Larvaniaa outside their Merdeka-themed home in Bandar Seri Alam in Masai. — Picture by Ben Tan

To the 58-year-old, such large-scale decorations are just a way to express his love for the country every year.

“Basically, this is something I look forward to every year as it is my way of celebrating our nation’s birth as well as independence.

“I have been doing this for the past 16 years when I started decorating my cars and later, took up the challenge to deck out my family home,” said Kandapan.

He started kitting out his cars for Merdeka in 2002 and four years ago, turned his attention to his house.

Businessman M. Kandapan poses with his Merdeka-themed Mercedes-Benz outside his home in Bandar Seri Alam in Masai. — Picture by Ben Tan

This year is his fifth year decorating the house based on a theme. He decided to go with the government’s “Sayangi Malaysiaku” theme for his project.

“I have Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali as central figures for this year’s pictorial theme for the front of my house.

“The picture of the couple are surrounded by the other former prime ministers as well as Malaysia’s founding icons such as Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun VT Sambanthan,” he explained.

A look at his home revealed a colourful facade decked out in the blue, red, white and yellow of the national flag and also a large board as the pictorial theme of the “Sayangi Malaysiaku” theme.

A large kolam of the Jalur Gemilang and the hibiscus, Malaysia’s national flower, have taken over the porch.

More Jalur Gemilang flags framing windows flutter in the breeze. He even had the flags sewn onto his National Day outfit.

This year, he also has his Mercedes-Benz kitted out in the Merdeka theme with a sticker wrap.

M. Kandapan’s porch has been turned into a large kolam area featuring the Jalur Gemilang and national flower, the hibiscus. — Picture by Ben Tan

Kandapan, who is very detailed when selecting images for his yearly Merdeka Day projects, stressed that patriotism must be above politics.

He said Merdeka Day on August 31, and also Malaysia Day on September 16, mean a lot to him as both were meaningful milestones in the nation’s history.

“I hope that what I do can inspire patriotism in the younger generation.

“Many have forgotten the hardships faced by the nation as it sought independence from the British at that time, followed by the challenges in establishing Malaysia later,” he said, adding that Malaysians have a lot to be thankful for as the country has provided so much for its people.

But how long does Kandapan keep the decorations for both his house and cars up for?

“As usual, the house and car decorations will be up until March next year, before I embark on another personal passion, which is to redecorate in time for the Sultan of Johor’s birthday celebrations,” he said.

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