Zainuddin should  stop being the Deputy Misinformation Minister and explain instead whether one reason the Information Ministry wants to change Negaraku to Malaysiaku is because Mahathir had always opposed Tunku’s choice of the national anthem from Merdeka days

Media Statement
y Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaTuesday): Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Zainudin Maidin is abusing and misusing public funds by continuing to be Deputy Misinformation Minister instead of discharging his duties for which he is paid by the taxpayers – Deputy Information Minister. 

His jibe that DAP’s criticism against the move by PAS to impose a ban on liquor and dance on non-Muslims in Terengganu was a farce only deserved  contempt when propagandists  believed their own propaganda! 

DAP’s opposition to the Terengganu PAS government ban on liquor and public dances at two state hotels is principled and consistent with DAP’s stand. In fact, the ban is a breach of the assurance DAP leaders had been given by the Terengganu Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Hadi Ahmad Awang in December 1999 that the Terengganu PAS state government would fully respect the rights and sensitivities of non-Muslims and would not impose any new rule or regulations against their sensitivities and wishes without the fullest public consultation.  DAP leaders had visited Terengganu at the time to oppose the proposed imposition of the kharaj tax on non-Muslims, which was withdrawn. 

The criticism of the Women’s Development Collective (WDC) executive director Maria Chin Abdullah of the Kuala Terengganu municipal council decision to ban all women, non-Muslims included, from public singing and dancing as “undemocratic, racist and sexist” should be given serious consideration by both the council and the Terengganu State Exco. 

The attempt to justify the ban on the ground  that state policies governing Muslims and non-Muslims should be same, as the Muslims "who comprise 95 percent of the population object to such activities in public as it is against Islam", does not hold water and is a most dangerous precedent, as it could lead to a  vicious cycle of social intolerance and  cultural and religious insensitivities  trampling on the democratic and human  rights of the minorities and  the valuable asset of cultural diversity in plural Malaysia.

I fully agree with Maria Chia when she said: "The ability to assert views cannot be based on numbers but on the concept of respect for each other as dignified human beings. We cannot be governed by such weak arguments and yet at the same time advocate for a harmonious multicultural society. 

While the PAS State Government should  immediately lift the ban on liquor and public dances involving non-Muslims  and demonstrate that its political Islam is compatible with democracy, human rights, women’s rights, pluralism, cultural diversity and modern development, Zainudin should start acting as Deputy Information Minister instead of continuing as Deputy Misinformation Minister. 

For a start, Zainuddin should explain why the Information Ministry is tinkering with the third version of the national anthem in 46 years without a proper national  consultation or mandate. 

Furthermore, can he give  an assurance that Malaysians would not be presented with a fait accompli on National Day on August 31 with a third version of the national anthem decided by  a handful of people, violating all notions of democracy and the principles of Rukunegara and that there would be a meaningful and comprehensive national consultation process of from three to six months to seek public feedback on the proposed third version of the national anthem. 

Finally, Zainuddin should explain whether the Information Ministry is seeking for  a third version of the national anthem to change Negaraku to Malaysiaku  for two reasons; firstly, the first change 11 years ago in 1992 was a big flop, as it lost the “essence of the national identity” and  failed to “invoke the patriotic passion”; and secondly, because the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.  Mahathir Mohamad had always opposed Bapa Malaysia and First Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s choice of the national anthem. As Zainudin has written in his biography of Mahathir before his appointment to the government, Mahathir’s objection to the adoption of the Malay folk tune Terang Bulan as the national anthem because of its “sentimental air” had pre-dated Independence 46 years ago! 

Is Zainuddin one of the leading lights in the move  to give one of the  last gifts to Mahathir after 22 years as Prime Minister before he steps down from office in October  – to change Negaraku to Malaysiaku?


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman