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Bridge the gulf between the
promises and realities of Merdeka Proclamation of August 31 1957 on
democracy, liberty, justice, people’s welfare and happiness
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Tuesday): When the nation achieved independent nationhood on August 31, 1957, it heralded the beginning of a new era where Malayans and later Malaysians could dare to dream big dreams to remake the world.
Reading out the Proclamation of Independence in Kuala Lumpur on that auspicious day 48 years ago, Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman pledged that Malaya (later Malaysia) “shall be for ever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations”.
Today, we have the twin towers but Malaysia would have stood even taller in the world if in the past 48 years, we had been able to forestall the exodus of her “best and brightest” sons and daughters into a Malaysian Diaspora all over the world.
On the economic front, Malaysia had achieved much when compared to countries like Ghana and Haiti, but couldn’t we have achieved more when compared to countries like South Korea and Singapore?
Where do we stand on nation-building and the creation of a Bangsa Malaysia? The recent controversy over the “social contract” is cause for very sobering thoughts as it highlighted the ignorance not only of the people but also the leaders, whether in Parliament and Cabinet, about the “social contract” agreed by the forefathers of the major communities as the bedrock of the independent nation. Equally disturbing, it illuminated the stunted product of the nation-building process when the “social contract” could be arrived at in an open and democratic debate 48 years ago, but it could not now be openly discussed or reviewed some half a century later because of its “sensitivities”.
What of democracy, liberty, justice, people’s welfare and happiness in the past 48 years?
Parliament, the Judiciary, the institutions and organs of government, are still struggling to regain the role ordained for them in the Merdeka Constitution, with the country weighed down with more undemocratic and draconian laws abridging the fundamental liberties promised to Malaysians in the Merdeka Proclamation.
On the 48th anniversary of our independent nationhood, Malaysians should ponder the gulf between the promises and realities of the Merdeka Proclamation on democracy, liberty, justice, people’s welfare and happiness and reaffirm their dedication, determination and resolve to achieve the goals of the Merdeka Proclamation in the face of the challenges of globalization in the 21st century.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman