DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations with the theme “Defend Secular Malaysia” is acceptance of the call by Mahathir in Miri last month to Malaysians to protect and enhance the nation-building formula of Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman
- at the twin launch of the DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations and the “Defend Secular Malaysia” theme and campaign
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Saturday): DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations with the theme “Defend Secular Malaysia” is an acceptance of the call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in Miri last month to Malaysians to protect and enhance the nation-building formula of Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman.
One important pillar of Tunku’s formula of nation-building and racial tolerance is to be loyal to the nation-building compact reached by the forefathers of the major communities on the founding of the nation, the “social contract”, and written into the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and 1963 Malaysia Agreement and reaffirmed by the Rukunegara proclaimed in 1970 that Malaysia is a democratic, multi-racial, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state.
This is why during his 80th birthday dinner on 8th February 1983 hosted by the Barisan Nasional leaders headed by Mahathir who had become the fourth Prime Minister for 18 months and won a landslide victory in his first general election in 1982, Tunku chose as the most important theme of his speech a public call to the Barisan Nasional leaders to adhere to the “social contract” and the Malaysian Constitution and “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State”. The next day, the banner headline “Tunku: Don’t Turn Malaysia into an Islamic State” was on the front pages of all language newspapers, whether New Straits Times, Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh, Nanyang Siang Pao, Kwang Wah Jit Poh, China Press, Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian or the Tamil press.
Four days later, on 12th February 1983, on the occasion of his 61st birthday, the third Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn publicly supported Tunku’s call to Barisan Nasional leaders and Malaysians “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state” and reminded Malaysians that Malaysia was conceived as “a secular state with Islam as the official religion”.
I have no doubt that if Tunku and Tun Hussein were alive when Mahathir made the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia was an Islamic State at the Gerakan national delegates’ conference two years ago, they would have been extremely shocked and would have been in the forefront to point out that the “929 Declaration” was a violation of the “social compact” reached by the major communities on achieving Independence, the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the Rukunegara that Malaysia shall be a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state.
The DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations themed “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign is to do what Tunku and Tun Hussein would have done if they are still with us – to use Mahathir’s very words, to “protect and enhance” the Tunku’s nation-building formula.
The twin launch of the DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations and the “Defend Secular Malaysia” theme and campaign today has double significance.
Firstly, it is a demonstration to Malaysians as to how they can manifest true patriotism and real love for the nation on the occasion of the National Day by focusing on fundamental and meaningful issues and concerns which would decide the nation’s destiny, how to make the nation a sounder, stronger, corruption-free, more united and competitive country more prepared to face the challenges of globalization in the new century as distinct from the “pulp” patriotism being promoted by some leaders who equated patriotism with flag-flying and waving!
In a nutshell, the DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations themed “Defend Secular Malaysia” is a manifestation of our definition of patriotism requiring Malaysians to live up to the nation’s highest ideals with the motto: “Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.”
I was flabbergasted when I read in the press today that Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir’s Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism wants to take “pulp patriotism” to the ridiculous length of promoting a year-long campaign for Malaysians to fly the Jalur Gemilang (Sin Chew). If every day is to become a National Day for Malaysians in flying the Jalur Gemilang, then what is the special significance of August 31?
This reminds me of Tan Sri Harun Hashim’s “Benchmark” column in the New Straits Times on Thursday, under the heading “Royal birthday a time to celebrate Ruler’s reign”, where he lamented that the “deluge of Datukships tends to rob the signal honour conferred on the recipients”. Harun’s column inspired a blogger to lament: “Nowadays, we give a Datukship to a 28-year-old swimmer who has accomplished something that 12-year-old children have done”! (http://joe-blogs.blogspot.com/)
It is in keeping with our high ideals of patriotism “Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right” that we had opposed the third version of the national anthem in 46 years from Negaraku to Malaysiaku without any national consultation or mandate. In his column, Harun said that at a recent formal dinner graced by Royalty, the band struck up the National Anthem followed by the Negri Sembilan State anthem, and he found that the Negri Sembilan anthem was “more regal” than Negaraku. This made him call for the dropping of the fast tempo for the Negaraku introduced in 1992 and the reversion to the original “very majestic” Negaraku, which he described as “the lasting significance of Aug 31, 1957”.
DAP is glad that good sense has finally prevailed and that the Cabinet has decided to scrap its earlier decision to rename Negaraku to Malaysiaku on August 31, although it has yet to to restore the national anthem to the full majesty of its original 1957 arrangement.
The second significance for the launch of the “Defend Secular Malaysia” theme and campaign of the 46th National Day Celebrations is that today is the 2003 Gerakan National Delegates Conference – as it was at the same conference two years ago that the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional “929 Declaration” was made.
Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik was at the Tunku’s 80th Birthday Dinner hosted by the Barisan Nasional on Feb. 8, 1983. Has he forgotten not only Tunku’s speech but also Tun Hussein’s statement to Barisan Nasional leaders and Malaysians 20 years ago “not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state”?
Is the 2003 Gerakan national delegates conference prepared or capable to undo the wrong it had done to the 46-year “social contract” and Merdeka Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement and the Rukunegara two years ago and the injustice it is imposing on present and future generations by its support for the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state?
This seems unlikely and the reason why the DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations’ “Defend Secular Malaysia” theme and campaign is of crucial importance, with the overriding twin objectives to make all Malaysians understand that:
The “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign is not anti-Islam, anti-Christianity, anti-Buddhism, anti-Hinduism or anti-Sikkhism but pro-Islam, pro-Christianity, pro-Buddhism, pro-Hinduism and pro-Sikkhism in defending and enhancing the multi-religious characteristics and diversity of the Malaysian nation.
A yardstick of the success of the “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign is whether it is possible to communicate the message to Malaysians in the next few months that time is running out to defend the secular basis of the nation, and that the next general election should not be used as a national mandate for a tectonic and irreversible shift in Malaysian nation-building from a secular order to an Islamic state.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman