(Petaling Jaya, Monday): DAP will stay away from the 43rd Merdeka Month Celebrations if UMNO Youth and its deputy leader Datuk Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir are allowed to violate with impunity the 43rd National Day theme of "togetherness" with its anti-national, dangerous and racist campaign of political gangsterism.
As DAP National Chairman, I received an invitation dated 3rd August 2000 from the Chairman of the 43rd Merdeka Month Celebration Committee, the Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir to attend the National Day Parade at Dataran Shah Alam, Selangor.
In his invitation, Datuk Abdul Kadir said the Merdeka Month celebration from August 17 to Sept. 16 this year is to help promote togetherness among the 22 million Malaysians by setting aside differences, such as race, district, religion and political beliefs, as much as possible during this period.
DAP welcomes the Merdeka Month celebrations to highlight the fact that Malaysians have more things in common that in disagreement and the future of the country lies in building on this commonality rather than exacerbating the differences among Malaysians.
For this reason, DAP responded positively to Abdul Kadirís invitation and the 43rd Merdeka Month Celebration Committee has been informed that the DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw will represent the DAP at the Merdeka Day Parade.
UMNO Youth and Abdul Aziz however have spoiled the Merdeka Month Celebrations, launching a highly divisive, racist, anti-national and dangerous campaign of political gangsterism on the second day of the Merdeka Month Celebrations. Will UMNO Youth and Abdul Aziz be allowed to go to such lawless extremes if their actions had not been condoned or received the blessings of those in high authority.
Under these circumstances, what is the use and purpose of the Merdeka Month celebrations to promote togetherness among 22 million Malaysians when UMNO Youth and Abdul Aziz (who incidentally is the brother of Datuk Abdul Kadir) is allowed to violate the very spirit of "togetherness" of the Merdeka Month celebrations during the Merdeka Month itself with their irresponsible and anti-national campaign of political gangsterism?
If the dangerous rampage of the extremist, desperate and bankrupt politicians in UMNO and UMNO Youth like Abdul Aziz are not checked immediately, and the police take appropriate actions against them, then there is no meaning or purpose in the DAP taking part in the Merdeka Month celebrations.
In fact, Abdul Kadir should even seriously consider cancelling the entire Merdeka Month Celebrations because of the irresponsible politicking of his brother and UMNO Youth.
In this connection, Malaysians and the Barisan Alternative in particular should be careful to ensure that they do not fall into the trap of UMNO Youth and Abdul Aziz to help them to plunge the country into a political crisis justifying high-handed crackdowns like a second Operation Lalang mass arrests under the Internal Security Act.
For this reason, it would not be a good idea to organise counter-demonstrations against the unruly, abusive and gangsterish demonstration conducted by UMNO Youth at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall last Friday - even just to show that Malaysians regardless of race and religion disapprove of the extremism and the political desperados of UMNO Youth.
In the face of the campaign of political gangsterism of UMNO Youth and
Abdul Aziz, all quarters should remain cool, calm, collected but firm,
fair and unyielding on basic fundamental rights.