Call on Chinese guilds, associations and youth organizations in Malaysia to play an active and leading role in a month-long commemoration of Tunku’s birthday centenary to reaffirm his greatest contribution to the nation – the founding nation-building principle of a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive Malaysia
- Bukit Mertajam DAP Chinese New Yew Open House
by Lim Kit Siang
(Bukit Mertajam, Thursday): Last night, the world watched “live” through CNN the 80-minute multi-media presentation of the United States Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations Security Council of what was meant to be an iron-clad case for war on Iraq by producing “irrefutable and undeniable” evidence of Iraq’s crimes against humanity.
Although Powell could only comfort the converted but not persuade doubters and skeptics that Washington has a cast-iron case for war on Iraq, the world had edged inexorably closer to war. UN chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, said two days ago that the clock was at five minutes to midnight for Iraq, and Powell had shaved another minute off that five minutes.
United States and British leaders are now talking about “weeks not months” to war on Iraq, with war plans prepared for as early as before the end of this month – two weeks after Haj.
Gulf War II will have far-reaching economic, geo-political and security repercussions and no country would be spared of its adverse consequences.
Malaysia’s economic development, which is suffering from a crisis of confidence with the sharp drop of foreign direct investments (FDIs) and an international image as a “terrorist centre”, will be further hard-hit. Malaysia, which could only attract two to three per cent of the US$53 billion FDIs which went to China last year, would face an bleaker economic future as a result.
In this Year of the Goat, Malaysian Chinese as well as all Malaysian citizens should give serious thought to these gobal, regional and national scenarios. Whether the next general election is held in this Year of the Goat, there is no doubt that global issues of the Gulf War II, the new phenomenon of stateless terrorism and political Islam would bulk large as major factors in the minds of voters.
In these circumstances, it is all the more important that Malaysians should not allow the global issues of war and peace, international terrorism and political Islam to crowd out or overshadow equally important national and local issues which will also have far-reaching effects on the quality of life of all Malaysians for decades to come.
In two days’ time, February 8, Malaysians should be commemorating an important date – the 100th birthday of Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Three weeks ago, on 16th January, I had publicly called on the government to spearhead a nation-wide month-long commemoration of the 100th birthday of Tunku on Feb. 8, to honour his memory in a meaningful and unique manner for the new generation of Malaysians to rededicate themselves to his abiding dream for a happy, united, harmonious and prosperous Malaysia.
DAP had even suggested that the centennial birthday commemoration for the Tunku should start with an unprecedented National Inter-Religious Prayer Meeting and Dialogue for unity, harmony, justice and prosperity.
There was no public response to the DAP proposal, but today, we read in the press the announcement by the Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister, Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir that the government has lined up a series of programmes and activities for a month from Febuary 8 to honour the Tunku on his 100th birthday, with the “highlight” a tahlil after the zohor prayers at Masjid Negara on Saturday, which would be attended by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Cabinet Ministers, friends and family of the late Tunku. Kadir is chairman of the government’s organizing committee for the Tunku’s centennial birthday celebrations.
It is not too late for the Cabinet to organize a more high-level, imaginative and inspirational Month to commemorate the 100th birthday of Tunku, involving all political parties (ruling and opposition), all religious groups, professions, civic organizations and NGOs, and all universities and schools, to cherish the legacy of Tunku.
One of Tunku’s greatest legacies to the nation is the founding 1957 Merdeka Constitution principle that Malaysia is a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, as this is the only nation-building principle which can see the plural Malaysian nation through all vicissitudes and crisis by cementing the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity into one united nationality.
Recently, Chinese guilds, associations and youth organizations in Malaysia showed that they could also be concerned about international issues of war and peace by actively participating in a mass signature campaign for peace and opposition to United States war on Iraq.
This is commendable. I would go one step further and call on Chinese guilds, associations and youth organizations in Malaysia to play an active and leading role in a month-long commemoration of Tunku’s birthday centenary to reaffirm his greatest contribution to the nation – the founding nation-building principle of a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive Malaysia.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman