Kadir and Barisan Nasional leaders should not go overboard in accusing  Malaysians for being disloyal and unpatriotic  for flying the national flag only on National Day but  not during the Merdeka  Month

Media Statement
Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaMonday): Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir and Barisan Nasional leaders should not go overboard in accusing  Malaysians for being disloyal and unpatriotic  for flying the national flag only on National Day but  not during the Merdeka  Month.

Yesterday, Kadir expressed his disappointment over the public's reluctance to fly the Jalur Gemilang in conjunction with the Merdeka Month celebration, alleging that this  reflected the people's lack of patriotism for the country, which ultimately could give rise to detrimental consequences.

Kadir  has yet to apologise for his totally unwarranted, gratuitous and offensive attack on the patriotism of the Malaysian Chinese in May, when he alleged that the Malaysian Chinese lack patriotism and were  ungrateful, claiming as evidence the failure of his committee’s “Raise-the-Jalur-Gemilang” campaign among the Malaysian Chinese. 

Kadir must be forewarned not to repeat the baseless allegation of disloyalty and unpatriotism against the Malaysian Chinese, especially for two reasons, viz:

  • The loyalty, patriotism and contributions of the Malaysian Chinese for the development  and prosperity of modern-day Malaysia is indisputable and equal to none, and cannot be questioned or challenged by any Barisan Nasional Minister or leader;
  • The attack on the Malaysian Chinese for being “ungrateful” is doubly galling  when it was the Chinese voters who had been largely responsible for ensuring that the Barisan Nasional was returned to power with a two-thirds parliamentary majority in the 1999 general election as well as  ensuring Kadir’s re-election in the Kulim-Bandar Baharu parliamentary seat with a reduced 8,067-vote majority.

As chairman of the Merdeka Month  Celebrations organizing committee, it is Kadir’s prerogative to  judge the success of his committee’s “Keranamu Malaysia” programmes by the number of Jalur Gemilang that is flown in the country – but he should not impose his own standards and definition of “patriotism”  on the people of Malaysia without their consent, participation and involvement or distort the meaning of patriotism to equate it with the flying and waving of the national flag for the Merdeka month.

Kadir is  seriously mistaken in believing that  a flag-waving Malaysian is more loyal and patriotic than a non-flag-waving Malaysian, just as he would be very wrong to assume that a Minister is  automatically more loyal and patriotic than a non-Minister 

Instead of being  purely obsessed with the  externals, Kadir would have done Malaysia  a greater national service if he had steered the annual National Day celebrations to focus on the essentials of love, loyalty and patriotism for the country  – not just flag-waving but  the real attributes and qualities of patriotism, such as the commitment to  stand up for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance to forge a nation all Malaysians can hold their heads high in the world!

In fact, there is a danger that Kadir is reducing the solemn and meaningful occasion of the annual National Day into a silly season of flag-flying and waving in the Merdeka Month.

Kadir should have learnt some lesson from the recent anti-war movement in the United States, slandered and denounced by the mainstream American media,  opinion makers and the Bush Administration as un-American, unpatriotic and even “crazy communists” – but applauded  with appreciation by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as the true voice of justice and humanity. 

Kadir, Ministers and Malaysians as a whole should ponder what it means to be patriotic, whether it should be reduced to flag-waving, always to be worn on one’s short sleeve and reduced to a public spectacle? 

We should be on the look-out for make-believe patriotism or  pulp patriotism or any other form of patriotism-on-the-cheap.

It has been said that when  it comes to being patriotic, a lot of people are willing to “talk the talk” but how many are prepared to “walk the walk”, as having the courage of conviction to sacrifice position, titles and even personal liberty to  stand up for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance for all Malaysians? 

Can Kadir outline what price he had paid for his love, loyalty and patriotism for Malaysia before he casts aspersion  on the love, loyalty and patriotism for the nation of millions of Malaysians, and in particular the Malaysian Chinese?


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman