Future National Day Celebrations should end the obsession with externals like flying the biggest flag or most number of flags for the most number of days and instead focus on the real essence of patriotism in ranking Malaysia as world-class in meaningful measures such as having the best universities, among least corrupt nations, having most dedicated and efficient civil service or the most IT-literate populace and knowledge-based economy
46th National Day Messege
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): In celebrating the 46th National Day, I have one wish – that future National Day Celebrations should end the obsession with externals like flying the biggest national flag or most number of flags for the most number of days and instead focus on the real essence of patriotism in ranking Malaysia as world-class in meaningful measures such as having the best universities, among the least corrupt nations, having most dedicated and efficient civil service or the most IT-literate populace and knowledge-based economy.
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.
This is particularly the case as the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who has less than two months before stepping down from the highest office in the land which he had occupied for over 22 years, had recently been reminding Malaysians to remember, uphold and enhance the nation-building formula of Bapa Malaysia and the nation’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman – as spelt out in the “social contract”, the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara – that Malaysia is a secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
But this is not to be. Can the 2003 National Day be the last year where the National Day Celebrations Committee stopped being obsessed by externals in equating flag-flying with patriotism, regarding it as the be-all and end-all of National Day Celebrations – and to switch focus completely to the real essence of patriotism, loyalty and love for Malaysia that can make Malaysians and future generations stand tall and proud in the world?
I propose that starting next year, the National Day celebrations should adopt the theme of patriotism with the definition and motto: “Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.” All National Day celebrations should revolve around this theme and motto of patriotism!
Happy 46th National Day celebrations to all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman