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50th Merdeka anniversary must be occasion for national introspection on the reasons for both our success and failures in half-a-century of nationhood so that Malaysia can learn the lessons of history to achieve the optimum national potentials in the coming decades

50th Merdeka Anniversary Message 
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Friday): Unlike previous years, on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary, I am issuing a message on the day itself instead of the usual practice of on its eve.

Just one or even two months ago, no one would have predicted or expected that Malaysians would be troubled by many national issues of import come August 31 when the nation celebrates its Merdeka golden jubilee – whether about the Merdeka “social contract” on the fundamental cornerstone of Malaysian nation-building; racial and religious polarization; the independence and integrity of national institutions like the Cabinet, Parliament, Judiciary, Police, Anti-Corruption Agency, Election Commission, the public service; plunge in educational standards and international competitiveness; decline in quality of life with unchecked rise in crime; increasing intolerance towards dissent, press and internet freedom; or a host of other major concerns.

With the 50th Merdeka anniversary, the “feel good” euphoria in Malaysia should be even more effusive than in 2004 which gave Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi the unprecedented landslide general election victory, sweeping over 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats, a feat which had eluded all the four previous Prime Ministers.

In actual fact, the “feel good” euphoria is singularly absent in the country on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary. Instead of the “feel good” euphoria, there is the “feel worse” sentiment among the people which is even more prevalent and acute than at any time during previous Mahathir administration.

Malaysians have both chalked up successes and achievements as well as experienced failures and setbacks in our 50 years of nationhood.

We are right to be proud of our successes but we must be prepared to address our failures of half-a-century of nation-building.

If our 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations is one-sided, focusing only on the success story while ignoring completely our failures, we are not doing ourselves and future generations any service – for we are only continuing to wallow in the pond of denial refusing to learn from the mistakes which history can teach us, condemning future generations to repeat the same grave errors.

The 50th Merdeka anniversary should be an occasion for a national introspection of the formula of our successes and the reasons for our under-performances so that Malaysia can fully achieve its optimum national and international potentials, based on our human and natural resources.

If this is not done, then the 50th Merdeka Anniversary celebrations would have failed to achieve its true and full purpose and meaning.


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

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