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Farce of patriotism by handful of BN MPs – a black chapter for Parliament and a blot for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations

Media Statement  
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Thursday): A handful of irresponsible Barisan Nasional MPs had disgraced Parliament and demeaned the 50th Merdeka anniversary by staging a farce of patriotism in Parliament yesterday just to score cheap political points to catch Opposition MPs off-guard. 

Yesterday’s Parliamentary sitting started at 10 am with the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah making a statement on the 50th Merdeka anniversary before the start of the question session, which was quite unusual as the Speaker represents all MPs, both government and opposition, and should only make pronouncements unrelated to the duties of his office after consultation and mandate of both sides of the House. 

Opposition MPs were completely unaware that the Speaker was going to make any such announcement on behalf of Parliament, and that was why I was not in the House at the time. Not only the majority of Opposition MPs were not in the House, this applies to the majority of BN MPs – resulting in the Speaker making an important announcement to an empty House! 

What was clearly out of order was that the Chairman of the Barisan Backbenchers Club Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainudin Raja Omar (BN – Larut) followed up with a speech which he read from a prepared text (proof of prior knowledge and pre-planning) ending up with his call to MPs to emulate Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman 50 years ago with seven shouts of Merdeka in Parliament. 

The farce ended with the BN MP for Kinabatangan Datuk Bung Moktar Radin deriding the Opposition benches and asking offensively whether the two Opposition parties did not celebrate Merdeka. 

There were only one or two MPs each from DAP and PAS in the House at the time and they did not respond to Raja Ahmad’s call probably for three reasons:  

(i)            it was completely against parliamentary  Standing Orders;

(ii)          no prior notice or  consultation; and

(iii)         more a farce than a serious expression of celebration of 50th Merdeka anniversary. 

Nanyang Siang Pau, which carries a daily tally of parliamentary attendance at 10 am, 2.30 pm and 5.30 pm, reported that there were only 31 MPs when Parliament started its sitting yesterday at 10 am – which was just five above the quorum of 26 MPs. 

With only 25 or 26 BN MPs in the House – which is only one-seventh or one-eighth of the total BN  total of 199 MPs – how can Raja Ahmad be so irresponsible in staging a farce of patriotism in Parliament just to catch the Opposition MPs off-guard to get an excuse to accuse the Opposition MPs  of being unpatriotic? 

Does it mean  that  the over 85% of the BN MPs (including Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries) were unpatriotic for being absent from the House to respond to Raja Ahmad ‘s call for seven shouts of Merdeka in Parliament yesterday?  Even the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah did not stand up from his chair to shout Merdeka seven times. Was the Speaker also unpatriotic? 

If Raja Ahmad’s seven shouts of Merdeka were not a cheap political trickery to entrap the Opposition MPs, BN MPs like Bung Moktar and Datuk Mohd Said Yusuf (BN – Jasin) would not have immediately pounced on it to accuse DAP MPs of being unpatriotic. 

During the subsequent exchange during question time, I called on MPs to stand up in Parliament to give seven Merdeka shouts of “social contract”, with all DAP MPs present in the House responding in unison. Can all the BN MPs be accused of being disloyal to the Merdeka social contract as none of the BN MP had joined in? 

If in Parliament next week, I am to stand up to call on all MPs to shout Merdeka seven times, and if no one from the BN benches responded, can all the BN MPs be accused of being unpatriotic? 

The farce of patriotism staged by a handful of BN MPs yesterday has spoiled the significance of the Golden Jubilee of Malaysian nationhood for at least two important reasons:

  • Disgracing and dishonouring Parliament as if Malaysians need more proof to show that Malaysia is a very long way off from a first-world Parliament which debate  momentous national issues like the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone bailout scandal or the new crisis of confidence in the integrity, quality and professionalism of the system of justice instead of indulging in childish antics;

  • Debasing and demeaning the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations – with the handful of irresponsible BN MPs causing division and greater disunity among the Malaysian rakyat when this should be an occasion for all Malaysians including MPs, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs to come together as Malaysians.

The farce of patriotism by a handful of BN MPs yesterday is a black chapter for Parliament and a blot for the 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations!


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

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