10 highlights of Merdeka II for a new Malaysia

I rose up in Parliament last week, 21st August 2008, to point out that although the 51st Merdeka anniversary was ten days away, the country was never so devoid of National Day enthusiasm with so little cause for celebration.

This was because in the past six months since the March 8 “political tsunami”, what obsessed the ruling politicians were “ketuanan Melayu”, “kedaulatan Melayu” and “perpaduan Melayu” when the national focus after half-a-century of nationhood should have been “Malaysian unity”.

Who knows what is the theme of the official National Day celebrations this year? The overwhelming majority of Malaysians, including Barisan Nasional leaders, just don’t know.

The official National Day theme this year is “Unity, the core of success”. It is humdrum, pedestrian, uninspiring and even meaningless in the midst of keris-wielding and shouts of “perpaduan Melayu”.

If the official National Day theme is to touch the hearts of all Malaysians and be a binding and inspiring slogan for all citizens in the country, then it should be amended to: “Malaysian Unity, the core of success”.

The Barisan Nasional government has failed in its first fundamental task – to be the government for all Malaysians.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi presented the country’s biggest budget in history – a walloping RM207.9 billion.

Coming just before the 51st Merdeka anniversary, it should be a budget of national unity, which it failed woefully.

This is because it failed to inspire unity, hope and confidence among Malaysians that they will be the main beneficiaries from the RM207.9 billion 2009 Budget, as it is budget of denial which has continued to plunge the country into a multiple crisis of confidence - political, economic and nation-building!.

We decided at short notice on Thursday night to organize this Perak DAP 51st Merdeka anniversary because the great Pakatan Rakyat victory by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Permatang Pauh by-election on August 26 has given all Malaysians throughout the country new hope of continuing paradigm shift in the destiny of Malaysia.

Earlier that evening while I was in Damansara, a stranger recognized me and came up to shake my hand, saying that he felt that there is hope for him and his children in the country.

I wanted to correct him that he must be feeling for the second time in six months that despite the dark clouds, ordinary Malaysians regardless of race can again hope that there is a future for Malaysians in their own homeland.

This must be the message of the 51st Merdeka celebrations – not the meaningless slogan of the official celebration of “Unity the core of success”.

Let the word go out from here that on the occasion of the 51st Merdeka anniversary, all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or territory, are united in the resolve to herald a second Merdeka for all Malaysians.

The first Merdeka in 1957 ended as a Merdeka for the Barisan Nasional leaders and their cronies. It is time for a Merdeka II where all Malaysians can enjoy the full gamut of freedom of citizenship of an united, just, democratic, progressive and prosperous Malaysia.

There are already several important milestones for this Merdeka II movement, the most notable being:

• 308 – the “political tsunami” of the March 8 general election;

• 826 – the second “political tsunami” of the Permatang Puah by-election

Everyday, new landmarks of a Merdeka II are being chalked up, including this morning, with the breakthrough announcement by the Perak Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin that the Pakatan Rakyat government of Perak has agreed to give 1,000 hectares of land to the nine Chinese Independent Secondary Schools to fund their continuous growth and future expansion.

In the Merdeka II long march in the second half-century of our nationhood, Malaysians must dare to dream big dreams again for the country.

I for one will like to see the achievement of the following ten national objectives in the Merdeka II campaign:

1. Make Malaysia safe and secure again for its citizens, visitors and investors, with a dedicated, efficient, professional world-class police service to keep crime low. Malaysians today feel even more unsafe whether in the streets, public places or the privacy of their homes compared to five years ago when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister. Let us start immediately with an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

2. Restoration of an independent, impartial, professional and meritocratic judiciary. A Judicial Appointments Commission should be set up without delay and the country must not suffer another judicial trauma by the appointment of a Umno Chief Justice

3. Zero tolerance for corruption – with Malaysia ranked among the top 10 countries which are least corrupt in the world.

4. Malaysian universities should rank among the best in the world – with at least two among the World’s Top 100 and another two in the list of the World’s next Top 100. In other words, at least four Malaysian Universities among the World’s Top 200 Universities.

5. End the brain drain of the best and brightest talents overseas – in particular stemming the brain-drain to Singapore by reinstating the principle of meritocracy and ensuring that Malaysia’s best and brightest, regardless of race, can get the best educational and employment opportunities in their own country.

6. Restored competitiveness to enable to Malaysia to be among the ranks of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore (as we were the second most developed nation in Asia after Japan when we achieved Independence in 1957) instead of continuing to trail behind more and more countries.

7. Restore grass-roots democracy with elected local government.

8. Repeal of draconian and undemocratic laws which violate human rights such as Internal Security Act, Official Secrets Act, Sedition Act, Printing Presses and Publications Act and the Police Act.

9. Eradication of poverty for all Malaysians, regardless of race.

10. A Bangsa Malaysia based on “Malaysians Unite” and “ketuanan rakyat Malaysia”.

(Speech at the Perak DAP 51st Merdeka Day reception at Heritage Hotel, Ipoh on Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 5.30 pm)

Lim Kit Siang

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