(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said yesterday that the government proposes to supply the Jalur Gemilang to the people at subsidised prices in its campaign to fly the Malaysian flag from houses and business premises during Independence Month next year.
He said the move was aimed at easing the load of the people, especially the rural folk, most of whom could not afford to pay the market price of RM5 for the flag. Besides the affordability factor, it was also difficult to find shops selling the flags, especially in the small towns, and even in the big towns the number was small.
Abdul Kadir should be commended for the various innovative ways the 43rd Merdeka Month celebrations committee under his chairmanship had taken to mark the National Day under the "togetherness" theme among the 22 million Malaysians by setting aside differences, such as race, district, religion and political beliefs, as much as possible during this period.
It is most unfortunate that Abdul Kadir’s initiatives to make this year’s National Day celebrations the most meaningful one were spoilt by extremist, bankrupt and desperate UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders who chose the 43rd Merdeka Month celebrations to launch a negative and anti-national campaign, with the new Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamad Khir Toyo making his infamous "bloodshed" statement, provoking inter-racial ill-will and distrust and turning this year into a Black National Day.
This is one important reason why less national flags were flown throughout the country this year as compared to previous years, not because Malaysians have become less nationalistic, but because the entire National Day spirit and mood had been spoilt by the spate of anti-national activities by certain UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders in trying to plunge the country into a synthetic political and communal crisis out of a political vacuum.
While the idea of the government subsidising national flags in next year’s Independence Month is a good one, Abdul Kadir should realise that national unity cannot be promoted by subsidised national flags but only by making every Malaysian feel, belong and proud to be a Malaysian.
In the past two weeks, Malaysians regardless of race and religion were not only not made to feel, belong and proud to be a Malaysian, many were further alienated by the grossly insensitive actions of certain UMNO and UMNO youth leaders who also broke the laws of the land with impunity. But the last straw was the Prime Minister’s 43rd Merdeka Day Message which hurt the feelings of the Malaysian Chinese and all right-thinking and fair-minded Malaysians in his unfair and defamatory reference to Suqiu and its supporters as terrorists and communists.
Abdul Kadir said from his observation, the opposition parties, especially PAS, had reduced their politicking during the celebrations and he said he appreciated this. But what did Abdul Kadir do to reduce the irresponsible politicking and racial baiting by UMNO and UMNO Youth during the Merdeka Month celebrations?
It was precisely because the National Day is an event for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs, that the DAP was represented at highest national leadership level at the National Day Parade at Dataran Shah Alam by DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw despite the party’s great unhappiness and grave reservations about the synthetic political and communal crisis which UMNO Youth had been trying to create out of a political vacuum and the outrageous "bloodshed" statement by the new Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Mohamad Khir Toyo which were totally antithetical to the National Day spirit.
In his National Day message, the Yang di Pertuan Agong urged "all Malaysian communities to preserve the existing unity among them" and that "Should problems arise, resolve them at the negotiating table and urgently".
He said the key to preserving harmony in the country is to appreciate and practise the theme and slogan for this year's National Day celebration "Keranamu Malaysia" (because of you, Malaysia) and stressed that maintaining racial co-existence and religious tolerance would go a long way towards perpetuating a blissful life for the coming generations as well.
It is the Barisan Nasional leaders, particularly UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders, who should heed the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s advice in his National Day Message, which is most positive and appropriate in instilling patriotism and love for the motherland among Malaysians, unlike the National Day message of the Prime Minister which undermined national unity and inter-racial harmony as well as shamed Malaysia in the eyes of the world.
This is why I am acting on the Yang di Pertuan Agong’s advice and seeking an appointment with the Prime Minister on his return from the United States to discuss the resolution of the political and ethnic tensions which had been created by certain UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders.
I am seeking an urgent meeting with Mahathir by the following Monday on 11th September 2000 and if the meeting with Mahathir eventuates, I would explain to the Prime Minister why his 43rd National Day message was outrageous and most unbecoming of the Prime Minister; why he had done a great injustice in likening the Suqiu Committee to the Al-Ma’unah movement and to those of the "communists in the past" for "fanning racial sentiments"; why he should have the grace and humility to withdraw and apologise for his baseless and unfounded attacks on the Suqiu Committee, which had hurt the feelings of the Malaysian Chinese despite their support for Barisan Nasional in the last general election and a blue-print to initiate national reconciliation and restore national unity.
This meeting with the Prime Minister is important as it is obvious that
no Barisan Nasional Minister would dare to convey to Mahathir the real
feelings of the people on the ground, that there was never at any time
a challenge to Malay special rights from Suqiu Committee
or from any quarter - including the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling
Liong Sik, Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik and the SUPP Deputy
President, Datuk Law Hieng Ding, despite their public endorsement of Suqiu
last August to fraudulently and dishonestly secure Chinese electoral support
in the last general election.