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Selangor Sultan�s advice to keep politics out of the once-in-a-lifetime 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations ignored � with many asking whether it is a national anniversary or Barisan Nasional anniversary

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Saturday): A fortnight ago, the Sultan of Selangor called on politicians regardless of parties to put politics aside and to celebrate the once-in-a-lifetime event, the 50th Merdeka anniversary, as one people.

He said: �The politicians, regardless of their parties, can have all the time they want to talk about politics after National Day but for now, I do not want to hear any issues that can hurt the feelings of any community.�

It is very sad that the Sultan of Selangor�s advice was completely ignored, as the two weeks before the 50th Merdeka anniversary had produced an unusually big crop of divisive and contentious issues which further divide rather than unify Malaysians as well as undermining public confidence in the independence and integrity of national institutions � not to mention the farce of patriotism staged by some Barisan Nasional MPs on August 29, which disgraced Parliament and demeaned the Merdeka Golden Jubilee celebrations.

After the Ambang Merdeka at the Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur culminating in the 50th Merdeka Anniversary countdown for midnight of August 30, many Malaysians asked whether it was a national anniversary or a Barisan Nasional anniversary.

Instead of uniting all Malaysians, regardless of generations, race, religion, territory or political party affiliations, the Ambang Merdeka programme polarized Malaysians between those in the Barisan Nasional/Alliance and the rest of Malaysians!

Although the Merdeka Parade at Dataran Merdeka yesterday morning and the Merdeka Mammoth Celebrations at Stadium Merdeka last night were not as blatantly �Barisan Nasional� as the Ambang Merdeka programme, the tone and motif of the official celebrations had been set and it is no exaggeration to say that many Malaysians were turned off by the anniversary programme for failing to be a powerful agent of Malaysian national unity for the country to face up to the many grave challenges of the next half-century.

Where have we gone wrong? Even more pertinent, are those in authority prepared to acknowledge that mistakes have been made in missing a golden opportunity, once-in-a-lifetime, to unite rather than polarize Malaysians or will such criticisms be dismissed as lacking in patriotism and love for Malaysia?


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

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