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Zainuddin-led attack prove Merdeka Statement more than right when it said national unity on 50th Independence anniversary “fraying at the edges”

Media Statement   
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Tuesday): With two Muslim groups joining the Information Minister, Datuk Zainuddin Maidin in his attack on the Merdeka Statement initiated by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli)’s Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS), which had the endorsement of 42 supporting organizations, the Merdeka Statement has proven to be more than right when it said “recently the state of unity has been fraying at the edges”. 

The Merdeka Statement said:  

“Ethnic, linguistic and religious divides have deepened, causing genuine pain and hurt to many in our nation. Such a fragile state of unity should not have happened after 50 years of nation building”. 

The accusation of the two Muslim groups, Allied Co-ordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs (Accin) and Muslim Youth Movement (Pembela), which have opened their fire at those behind the Merdeka Statement for having a hidden agenda to renegotiate the social contract is most shocking, as it is clear that this was never the intention of the Merdeka Statement. 

Such an accusation is most surprising coming at a time when the country is witnessing a blatant rewriting of the Merdeka social contract and Malaysia Agreement, totally in an arbitrary, undemocratic and unconstitutional manner, with regard to the fundamental nation-building principle of Malaysia as a secular state with Islam as the official religion and not an Islamic state. 

The Merdeka Statement is a commendable roadmap to achieve a more united, competitive, innovative and prosperous Malaysia, which celebrates the nation’s diversity and avoids past pitfalls and mistakes.   

If such a sincere, genuine and patriotic effort to help chart future nation-building directions could be the subject of a Minister-led attack for being “anti-national”, it raises grave questions as to whether any purpose is served in having grand and costly “sight-and-sound” celebrations of the 50th Merdeka anniversary without addressing the issue why Malaysians seem even more divided than ever before in the nation’s half-a-century history. 

The solution is not to impose further clampdown of public debate on the future direction of the nation but to have trust and confidence in the maturity, good sense and patriotism of Malaysians after 50 years of nationhood to have open, rational and responsible discussion of the best nation-building policies of the country. 

For a start, the Cabinet tomorrow must deplore Zainuddin’s attack on the Merdeka Statement. 

Let the Cabinet boldly return to the pledge of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who had promised when he became Prime Minister four years ago to lead an administration which is clean, incorruptible, efficient, accountable, trustworthy, democratic, people-oriented and prepared to hear the truth from the people, however pleasant,  by removing all the undemocratic curbs and restraints on the mainstream media to encourage full, free and responsible public debate on policies and issues which affect Malaysians and future generations.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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