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Cabinet’s inept and irresponsible mishandling of undergraduate Meng Chee’s six-minute rap music video on Negaraku creating a new and major cause of national dissension especially among the young generation of Malaysians on the occasion of nation’s 50th Merdeka anniversary vindicated Mahathir’s epithet of a “half-past-six Cabinet”

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Friday): The Cabinet’s inept and irresponsible mishandling of undergraduate Wee Meng Chee’s six-minute rap music video on Negaraku in creating a new and major cause of national dissension especially among the young generation of Malaysians on the occasion of the nation’s 50th Merdeka anniversary has vindicated former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s epithet of a “half-past-six Cabinet”.

It has made more and more Malaysians, particularly the young generation, disgusted with the MCA, Gerakan, Umno and other Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders who are unable to differentiate between the important from the less important issues.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi confirmed that the Cabinet on Wednesday discussed at length (“kita bincang lama” – Utusan Malaysia) Meng Chee’s public apology to the government and Malaysians for his rap video because it was “an important or big issue”. (Sun)

Nobody can fault the Cabinet for discussing Meng Chee’s Negaraku rap video clip, but when Ministers had no time for bigger and more important national issues, Malaysians have a right to demand to know why the country does not have a more dedicated, competent, professional and more patriotic Cabinet!

The country is at present drowned by a plethora of bigger and more important national issues than Meng Chee’s six-minute Negaraku rap video which should have been the focus of the Cabinet attention last Wednesday, such as:

• The failure of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to make the 50th Merdeka anniversary really meaningful by “walking the talk” in the past 45 months to deliver the pledge of a clean, incorruptible, efficient, accountable, trustworthy, just, open and democratic administration which is prepared to “hear the truth” from the people;

• The RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal, the breach of Abdullah’s pledge of no mega-billion-ringgit bail-outs and the top-most question among Malaysians - why no one had been arrested or brought to book for the biggest financial scandal in the start of any Prime Minister.

• The shocking comment by the nation’s most famous Inspector-General of Police and Deputy Chairman of the Royal Police Commission, Tun Hanif Omar on Sunday that 40 per cent of the senior police officers could be arrested for corruption without further investigations based “strictly on their lifestyles” and the total lack of action by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) in the past 27 months to arrest a single one of the 1,400 out of the 3,502 (i.e. 40 per cent) senior police officers from the rank of Assistant Superintendent to Inspector-General of Police since the publication of the Royal Police Commission Report.

• The unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional revision of the Merdeka social contract and Malaysia Agreement on the fundamental nation-building principles agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the attainment of Independence half-a-century ago.

• Malaysia’s continued omission from the World’s Top 500 Universities ranking for the fifth year in succession in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2007 just released by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

• The constitutional crisis and impasse with the Prime Minister’s nominee for the post of Chief Judge of Malaya unable to get past two meetings of the Conference of Rulers since the retirement of Tan Sri Siti Normah Yaakob on January 5, 2007, raising the question whether the Conference of Rulers is mere rubber stamp or has important check-and-balance role to ensure good governance.

Did the Cabinet on Wednesday have time for these bigger and more important national issues than Meng Chee’s six-minute rap video, and if so, why there had been no proper public accounting of the Cabinet decisions?

Next is the manner and outcome of the Cabinet’s “long discussion” of Meng Chee’s rap video. I presume Meng Chee’s video clip would have been shown to the Cabinet.

The Star reported: “Student must face the law – Cabinet, however, accepts his apology”. The Sun has a different take on its front-page report: “Who’s sorry now? – CABINET CANNOT ACCEPT APOLOGY AND RAPPER WHO MOCKED NEGARAKU MUST FACE THE MUSIC”.

The Cabinet has made a total mockery of itself. Has it accepted Meng Chee’s apology or has it not. If it has accepted the apology, why are Ministers still demanding action to be taken against Meng Chee and for him to be prosecuted by the Attorney-General – which is the clear message from the Prime Minister and UMNO Ministers including Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Datuk Zainuddin Maidin and Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim that there should be prosecution. In fact, according to Zainuddin, this was also the stand of Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik in Cabinet on Wednesday!

MCA Ministers must explain why they put such great pressures on Meng Chee and his family when they are unable to get Umno Ministers and the Cabinet to accept the apology?

Why was there double-standards here, when the Cabinet could accept the insincere “apologies” of two Barisan Nasional MPs, Datuk Mohd Said Yusuf (Jasin) and Datuk Bung Mohtar Radin (Kinabatangan) who made crude, derogatory, sexist and gender-offensive remarks in the infamous “bocor” scandal without demanding any follow-up disciplinary action to be taken against them in Parliament?

It is utterly disgraceful that the entire weight of the Malaysian government should be used to crush a 24-year-old undergraduate for the rap video clip.

Meng Chee can be faulted for the rough language, irreverent expressions and even the use of the national anthem and national flag in the rap, but it is utterly disgraceful that the entire weight of the Malaysian government machinery, going up all the way to the Cabinet, should be used to criminalize and demonise a 24-year-old undergraduate, when he had already tendered a public apology.

In fact, Meng Chee should be commended for his very clear expression of patriotism in articulating the frustrations of the ordinary rakyat at police corruption, civil service bureaucracy, discrimination against Chinese education and the insensitivity of the authorities – which must also be the concern of all Malaysians who love the nation.

The least MCA Ministers should have done is to ask the Cabinet to address the frustrations and exasperations of Malaysians expressed by Meng Chee in his rap, but this had not been done, and the Cabinet had completely ignored the real message of the rap – an indictment of a “half-past-six Cabinet”!

The continued demonisation and persecution of Meng Chee will cast a dark shadow over the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations creating even more alienation, dissension and disunity among Malaysians particularly among the young generations.

Abdullah should cut the Gordian Knot, accept Meng Chee was acting in a very patriotic manner and meant no disrespect to the national symbols although his methods could be faulted, end the public ruckus over the rap music video and advise all parties concerned to learn the right and positive lessons from the incident to contribute towards greater national understanding, tolerance, resilience and unity with respect for diversity of views and freedom of expression.


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

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