DAP calls on Cabinet to honour Tunku's birthday centennial by proclaiming February 8 as a Bapa Malaysia Day to be celebrated nationally every year

Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): There are two important dates in this month of February. The first one is February 8, as 100 years ago on this date, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia was born. The second is February 21, the International Mother Language Day (IMLD).

In any other country, the birthday centenary of the father of the nation would be an important and grand affair with meaningful commemorative events up and down the country by both the government and the civil society in honour of his memory, contribution and legacy.

In Malaysia however, the government nearly forgot about Tunku's birthday centenary until the DAP publicly reminded the Cabinet about it a month before the anniversary, suggesting that the government spearhead a month-long celebration of Tunku's birthday centenary.

This led to a hurried and last-minute decision by the government to go through the formality of celebrating the Tunku's birthday centenary without any serious intention to spearhead a series of meaningful nation-wide commemoration events in honour of the memory, contribution and legacy of Tunku.

This may be why the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had not said a single word on Tunku's birthday centenary, although in the past three-and-half weeks he had commented on almost every subject, big and small, national and international, under the sun.

The government has also not organized any meanginful month-long celebrations to commemorate Tunku's birthday centenary, although Pos Malaysia's commemorative postage stamp would be launched only next month - simply because the commemorative stamp could not be ready in time on February 8 as the government decision to commemorate the Tunku's 100th birthday was so hurried and last-minute!

The government's shabby treatment of the Tunku's birthday centenary in the past three weeks is clear for all to see, which is most shameful and unfair to Bapa Malaysia and Bapa Kemerdekaan. DAP calls on the Cabinet to rectify such gross oversight, and honour Tunku's birthday centennial by proclaiming February 8 as a Bapa Malaysia Day to be celebrated nationally every year.

DAP will organize a year-long nation-wide Tunku's birthday centenary commemoration in honour of his memory, contribution and legacy where eminent and distinguished Malaysians will be invited to share their memories and thoughts on Tunku's contributions and legacy to the Malaysian people and nation and what lessons they hold for the future of Malaysia.

The launch-off for the year-long nation-wide Tunku's birthday centenary commemoration will be a "Tunku's Centennial 1903-2003 - Night of Remembrance" at the Crystal Crown Hotel, Petaling Jaya on Friday, March 7, 2003 at 8 p.m which is open to the public.

Among the speakers at the "Tunku's Centenneial 1903-2003 - Night of Remembrance" are:

  • Dr. Chandra Muzzaffar - JUST President;

  • Datuk Param Cumaraswamy - UN Special Rapporteur for the independence of judges and lawyers;

  • Professor Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas - former Vice Chancellor, University of Malaya;

  • Zainur Zakaria - former President, Bar Council;

  • Datuk P.G. Lim, former ambassador to United Nations;

  • Said Zahari - former editor, Utusan Melayu;

  • Dr. Chen Man Hin - DAP National Chairman 1966-1999;

  • Karpal Singh - DAP National Deputy Chairman and leading constitutional and criminal lawyer;

  • Lim Kit Siang - Parliamentary Opposition Leader 1973-1999

Centennial Tunku Remembrance functions would also be held in Ipoh on 11th April and in Penang on 9th May 2003.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman