I have declined Abdul Kadir’s invitation to the National Day Parade at Putrajaya as  he has yet to apologise for his unwarranted attack on the patriotism of Malaysian Chinese in May

when launching the DAP’s 46th National Day Celebrations and the  “Defend Secular Malaysia” campaign in Nibong Tebal
Lim Kit Siang

(PenangThursday): In May this year, I called for the replacement of the Minister for Culture, Arts and Tourism, Datuk Kadir bin Haji Sheikh Fadzir, as the 2003 National  Merdeka Month  Celebrations organizing committee chairman unless he  withdrew and apologised for his totally unwarranted, gratuitous and offensive attack on the patriotism of the Malaysian Chinese. 

This was after he openly doubted and questioned  the love, loyalty and patriotism of  the Malaysian Chinese in alleging  that the Malaysian Chinese lacked patriotism and were ungrateful, claiming as evidence the failure of his committee’s “Raise-the-Jalur-Gemilang” campaign among the Malaysian Chinese. 

Abdul Kadir’s baseless attack on the patriotism of the Malaysian Chinese is unacceptable for two  reasons: 

  • 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; and
  • The attack on the Malaysian Chinese for being “ungrateful” was 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 Abdul Kadir’s re-election in the Kulim-Bandar Baharu parliamentary seat with a reduced 8,067-vote majority.

Up to now, Abdul Kadir has stuck to his guns and refused to withdraw or apologise for his attack on the Malaysian  Chinese for lacking in patriotism and love for Malaysia. 

It is a great fallacy to equate patriotism with flag-flying and waving, as if the bigger the national flag one flies, the more patriotic a person is to the country. If this is the case, then it would be very easy for the corrupt, the crooks and scoundrels to evade justice  by wrapping themselves with the national flag, flying not only the biggest national flag on National Day but for a whole month or even a whole year! 

Flag-flying and waving on National Day is not the sole measure of patriotism. In fact, a more meaningful way to celebrate the National Day is for the people and the country to resolve and adopt  a noble objective which will raise the international reputation and respect for the country – such as all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation, coming together to endorse  a national objective to rank Malaysia among the world’s first ten least corrupt nations within a decade instead of repeatedly slipping in the past seven years from the 23rd global placing  to the 33rd position  last year!

I had hoped that  the 46th National Day would be celebrated in a completely new and different manner – by engaging the Malaysian people  in a nation-wide quest for  the attributes and qualities of love, loyalty and patriotism for a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, modern, progressive, democratic and secular Malaysia with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, with Malaysians bound by the  common goal to uphold and advance  justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

But this is not to be, and all Abdul  Kadir seems to care and  continues to be obsessed is to equate  flag-flying with patriotism, regarding it as  the be-all and end-all of National Day Celebrations – to the extent of even suggesting that the month-long flag-waving be extended to year-long flag-flying!

No wonder there is a noticeable reduction of flag-flying vehicles this year, with one observant commentator pointing out that in past years, the focus was  on   vehicles which did not fly the Jalur Gemilang during the month of August as more people were flying flags on their vehicles than those who did not do so; while in the past week, the focus was on vehicles flying the national flag, as there were noticeably more people not flying the flag than those doing so.

Abdul Kadir should be reminded that he has yet to apologise for his totally unwarranted, gratuitous and offensive attack on the patriotism of the Malaysian Chinese in May.

A few days ago, I received a personal invitation from Abdul Kadir in his capacity as Chairman of the 46th Merdeka Month National  Committee inviting me to the  National Day Parade to be held for the first time in Putrajaya.  I have declined the invitation as Abdul Kadir has yet to withdraw and apologise for his unwarranted and gratuitous attack on the loyalty and patriotism of the Malaysian Chinese.

Abdul Kadir should realize that all Malaysians love Malaysia and will fly the Jalur Gemilang on National Day on August 31 on Sunday, but he should not equate flag-flying with patriotism or attack the patriotism of those who do not support his Merdeka Month programme to fly the Jalur Gemilang for a whole month on their vehicles.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman