Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the Sabah DAP forum “Malaysia – Towards A New Era” at Kian Kok Middle School Hall, Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday, 16th September 2008: 

No national-level celebration of Malaysia Day 2008 – PM and Cabinet apology warranted

The first item of business in the Cabinet meeting tomorrow should be an apology from the Prime Minister and the Cabinet for no national-level celebration of Malaysia Day 2008 today, September 16, to commemorate the day 45 years ago when Malaysia was born.

If Pakatan Rakyat could celebrate May Day with a 20,000-people rally at the Kelana Jaya Stadium last night, when the Pakatan Rakyat is still the Opposition at the national level, there can be no acceptable reason why unlike in previous years, the Barisan Nasional federal government has failed to organise nation-wide celebration on September 16 today as Malaysia Day this year.

There is no more eloquent reminder to Malaysians, particularly the people of Sabah and Sarawak, than the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s failure to hold nation-wide celebrations for Malaysia Day this year, that Sabah and Sarawak have yet to be fully accepted and recognised as an integral part of Malaysian nation-building and developmental process.

After the March 8 “political tsunami”, it belatedly dawned on the Prime Minister as well as on Barisan Nasional politicians in Sabah and Sarawak that the BN MPs in the two states occupy a strategic “kingmaker” role determining the survival of Umno hegemony and Barisan Nasional federal government.

The Barisan Nasional suffered a severe thrashing in the March 8 general election, winning 140 seats against the Pakatan Rakyat’s 82. However, 54 of these BN parliamentary seats come from Sabah and Sarawak – Sabah 24 and Sarawak 30.

Without these 54 BN MPs from Sabah and Sarawak, BN would be reduced to 86 seats out of 222 MPs in Parliament, evicting the BN from Putrajaya and into the Opposition.

But what is the use of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak flying almost every week from the federal capital to Sabah and Sarawak when this unprecedented strategic “kingmaker” role of BN MPs from Sabah and Sarawak dawned after the March 8 “political tsunami”, promising new billion-ringgit development allocations and plum offices to Sabah and Sarawak politicians, if the federal government is not prepared to accord proper respect and recognition to September 16 every year as Malaysia Day!

Now, Abdullah and Najib are too busy to come to Sabah and Sarawak to celebrate Malaysia Day with Sabahans and Sarawakians!

The Barisan Nasional has stubbornly refused to declare Malaysia Day on September 16 as a national public holiday.
Pakatan Rakyat will do what the Barisan Nasional has failed to do – and September 16 next year will be a national public holiday if a Pakatan Rakyat government is installed in Putrajaya at the national level.

This will mean that Malaysia will have two National Days – August 31st as Merdeka Day and September 16 as Malaysia Day.

Malaysia will then join the rank of countries like India and Pakistan which commemorate two National Days a year as national public holidays.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor