Tale of two T-shirts, two rallies and two Malaysia Day highlight the gravity of the prolonged crisis of confidence which plague Malaysia why Malaysians must think beyond race, religion, region or even politics to Save Malaysia

The tale of two T-shirts, two rallies and two Malaysia Day highlight the gravity of the prolonged crisis of confidence which plague Malaysia and why Malaysians must think beyond race, religion, region or even politics to Save Malaysia.

Two T-shirts

There is firstly the yellow Bersih 4 T-shirt, with the five objectives of:

  • Free and Fair Elections.
  • A Transparent Government.
  • The Right to Demonstrate.
  • Strengthening the Parliamentary Democracy System.
  • Saving the Economy of Malaysia.

Then there is the red T-shirt screaming the slogan “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu”, with the explicit threat of communal confrontation and if the message was not clear enough, there was also also the vivid imagery of a communal “bloodbath”.

On 28th August, the eve of Bersih 4 overnight rally, it was announced that Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi had signed an order prohibiting the yellow Bersih 4 T-shirt as “undesirable publication”.

But Zahid could take offence at a totally innocuous, in fact, patriotic yellow Bersih 4 T-shirt but completely unconcerned and unmoved by the red “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” T-shirt with its message of racial confrontation and incitement of racial hatred and conflict.

Up till today, Zahid still bans the yellow Bersih-4 T-shirt but approves the red “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” T-shirt.

Is this the model of good governance and “Leadership by Example” by Zahid and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak? Two Rallies

There was the 34-hour Bersih 4 overnight rally on August 29/30 in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu where Malaysians in unprecedented hundreds of thousands converged to express their common dream for a Malaysia where there is good governance and clean, free, fair elections – issues which completely transcend race, religion, region, age, gender or even politics.

Great pity the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak failed to be a Malaysian statesman to embrace the spirit of Bersih 4 but instead continued to adopt a confrontational and adversarial stance to Bersih 4 to demonise what is undoubtedly the most historic gathering of ordinary Malaysians transcending race, religion and region demonstrating their love and patriotism for the country as if they are knaves and traitors out to destroy Malaysia!

There is then the Sept 16 Red-Shirt “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” rally, heavy with symbolism and threat of communal confrontation and intimidation, which has now been proven to be an UMNO-sponsored affair with UMNO divisions alerted by UMNO headquarters immediately after Bersih 4 to mobilise UMNO members to the rally from all over the country.

No one thought or worried about racial clashes despite the crowd of hundreds of thousands for the 34-hour Bersih 4 rally for that was never in anyone's mind – not even the Police – as their only concern of “trouble”, if any, was whether the police was going to do the “dirty work” of the powers-that-be and fire tear gas or shoot water cannon into peaceful crowds.

But the Red-Shirt “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” struck fear and concern all over the country as to whether there would be racial clashes in the Federal capital on Malaysia Day right from the beginning of the announcement of the rally, and that was the question everybody broached with me whether I as in the north, centre or south of Peninsular Malaysia in the past fortnight.

One was a peaceful rally to celebrate diversity and to dream of a better Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age, gender or politics.

The other was a provocative rally to threaten racial confrontation and divide Malaysians, when it was actually a gross abuse of the name of Malays as it was not intended to protect the “maruah” of Malays, but only to protect UMNO or to be more exact, Najib himself!

After 58 years of Merdeka and 52 years of Malaysia, and six years of Najib's 1Malaysia campaign, we should be talking about “Kebangkitan Maruah Malaysia” and not “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu” against other communal groups.

But if the Sept. 16 “Kebangkigan Maruah Melayu” is really genuine, then it should highlight the issues which had undermined or prejudiced “maruah Melayu” - like the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal, the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal in Najib's personal bank accounts or even the “mystery” of the Altantunya Shaariibuu murder case.

Will they?

Two Malaysia Day

Malaysians are now told by former Malacca Chief Minister and one-time top voter-getter as UMNO Vice President, Datuk Ali Rustam that it was his organisation, Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan (Pesaka) which was the real organiser of the Sept. 16 rally to counter Bersih 4, and that it had nothing to do with Red-Shirt “Kebangkitan Maruah Melayu”.

This has caused even the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) president Tunku Imran Ja'afar to express shock at learning that his vice president, Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Omardin, who serves as Pesaka secretary-general, is at the forefront of the Sept. 16 rally.

One story today, a different story yesterday, what are Malaysians to expect tomorrow?

Be that as it may, it is simply shocking and outrageous that a former top UMNO leader, who had been Malacca Chief Minister and a top vote-getter as UMNO Vice President and one-time aspirant even to be Prime Minister of Malaysia if he had not “stumbled and fallen” in UMNO politics, could be so insensitive as to be the mastermind behind the Sept. 16 rally, repudiating the very import and meaning of Malaysia Day.

At this very fragile period of Malaysian nation-building, when there are even voices of secession from Sabah and Sarawak because of more than half-a-century of neglect and underdevelopment of these two states, the Sept. 16 rally in Kuala Lumpur, in whatever name, form or colour, will seriously undermine the unity, integrity and cause of Malaysia.

In fact, the Sept. 16 rally in Kuala Lumpur by UMNO or to be more exact the Najib forces may be the first step to cause the disintegration of Malaysia.

The Sept. 16 rally in Kuala Lumpur, in whatever name, form or colour, should not be held as it is not only a provocation to a multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia, it threatens the unity and integrity of the Malaysian Federation formed 52 years ago.

Equally pertinent, it will cause shame and infamy for Malaysia in the international arena.

This is in fact the time for Malaysians to go beyond race, religion, region or politics to Save Malaysia!

Are there enough Malaysians to save Malaysia?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah