(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The first post-National Day Cabinet meeting tomorrow should review why the 43rd National Day and the "togetherness" theme had failed to be a success in sparking off renewed national pride and unity, as illustrated by very fewer national flags flown throughout the country on National Day and the disappointment of the Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir at the poor public attendance at the National Day Parade at Dataran Shah Alam last Thursday.
One media editorial struck the problem on the head when it said:
The mass media had highlighted the participation of the Opposition in the National Day parade at Dataran Shah Alam, not realising that the Opposition is as entitled as the ruling parties to celebrate the National Day.
In fact, it is the Barisan Nasional parties which lack the nationalist spirit as shown by their boycott of the Terengganu National Day Parade at Kuala Terengganu last Thursday although the Terengganu state government had invited Terengganu UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and MIC to take part in the National Day celebrations.
In its review tomorrow, the Cabinet should censure the Barisan Nasional leaders in Terengganu who showed their lack of the nationalist spirit when they boycotted the Terengganu National Day Parade.
As the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi is also the UMNO Terengganu State Chairman, he should explain why he had allowed the Terengganu UMNO and Barisan Nasional to act in so immature and un-nationalistic or even anti-national a fashion - or was he completely unaware that the Barisan Nasional leaders in Terengganu had boycotted the Terengganu National Day parade?
The Cabinet must bear a great responsibility for the failure of the 43rd National Day celebrations to evoke a renewed national pride and unity because of its inability to uphold its decision of August 23 calling for "an end to all open debate on Malay Special Rights" to maintain "the good relations among the various races particularly the Malay and Chinese communities" - which was openly defied by UMNO Youth and certain UMNO leaders after 48 hours.
I had immediately warned at the time that the open defiance by UMNO
Youth of the Cabinet decision of August 23, 2000 was a great blow to the
moral and political authority of the Cabinet and the Deputy Prime Minister,
Datuk Abdullah Badawi, who chaired ther Cabinet meeting in the absence
of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and I suggested
that the Cabinet should hold an urgent emergency meeting to salvage
the 43rd National
Day from becoming a Black National Day.
Unfortunately, the Cabinet had neither the foresight nor the authority to act firmly and promptly to salvage the mood and spirit of the 43rd National Day Celebrations - causing this year’s Merdeka Month celebrations to fall far short of the national joy and festivities they should be.
Is the Cabinet tomorrow prepared to be frank and bold to admit the failures
of the 43rd National Day celebrations, pinpoint the causes and learn from
the disastrous mistakes of this year’s failures?