31 AUGUST 2012
MERDEKA DAY MESSAGE FROM BARU BIAN
Once again Merdeka Day is upon us and there are calls from many politicians to fly the flag as a show of patriotism and to instill patriotism amongst the younger generation. Other politicians are eager to advise the people to value our independence and one lamented that many people are confused between anger against certain political leaders and anger against the country, and that some national leaders make allegations and statements against the nation, which ‘our enemies from overseas would take advantage of’.
Firstly, I wish to point out a simple fact – the people cannot be faulted for confusing their anger against political leaders and anger against the country because for many years, the country has been run by the BN government, which has treated every government department and body as its own BN tool. Examples are too numerous to count. Only BN MPs and YBs are given allocations for their constituencies while those from the opposition are given nothing, putting their constituents at a disadvantage, perhaps as punishment for rejecting the BN. Witness the handing out of timber concessions and alienation of NCR lands to politician families and cronies by the state authorities, the swarming of the rural areas by government bodies such as JASA and KEMAS during the last state elections, the utilization of government transportation by the incumbent politicians during the campaign period, the behaviour of the Elections Commissions personnel during the voting and counting process, the distribution of government handouts by BN YBs, and most recently the fiasco of the Merdeka Day logo and theme song, chosen and written by the BN politicians. How can one blame the people for being confused if the BN politicians themselves cannot maintain the separation of the executive and the legislative, and insist on portraying the BN and the government as one and the same?
Secondly, using the overseas bogeyman scare story is really treating the citizenry like children. Who are our enemies from overseas? To my mind, our enemies are those from within this country who betray the trust given to them to govern the country. Our enemies are the people who enrich themselves at the expense of the ordinary people and then refuse to acknowledge their wrongdoings when caught out. Our enemies are the leaders who betray the country by giving identity cards and citizenship to illegal immigrants in exchange for votes. Our enemies are those people within the circle who are aware of the abuse of authority, profligate rampant corruption and cover ups but choose to remain silent for lack of moral fortitude or perhaps of their ‘tidak apa’ attitude that prevails.
Thirdly, on patriotism, why is it that the rakyat have to be reminded, urged, prodded and cajoled to fly the Jalur Gemilang by politicians? Perhaps it is because they have no reason to rejoice. When the immediate concerns are their own survival, the flying of the flag may not be of any priority. When the state and country have failed to protect their interests and to provide their basic amenities such as clean water and electricity, healthcare, education and housing, I cannot blame them for their lack of interest in flag flying. When the state is party to land grabs from the people and the country does not speak up against the abuse of power, how can we ask them to show patriotism and love of the country by flying the flag? If the government had performed honourably and not let the people down, if the rakyat were well taken care of and able to fend for themselves and prosper under a good and caring government, they would come out in droves to fly the flag without being asked to. Making the people fly the flag for the sake of a good show is just that – a show for appearance’s sake. Perhaps some of you will say that reasoning is misconceived, that it is equating the government to the country, and that should not be the case. For an answer to that, please see paragraph two above.
This year Merdeka Day falls within the Hari Raya season. The people are told by the Chief Minister that the purest Islamic teachings ‘preach justice and harmonious coexistence with followers of other religions’, and calls upon the faithful to respect both Muslim and non-Muslim brethren. (Borneo Post 25 Aug 2012 Pg 14).
I wish to say that I am in agreement with the Chief Minister’s statement that Islamic teachings preach justice and harmonious coexistence and mutual respect. Indeed, all religions require these tenets to be followed so that the community may thrive and prosper in harmony. If only these teachings were observed and adhered to by all those in whose hands we placed our trust to govern our fair land, we would not have to bear the stigma of being one of the poorest ‘states’ of Malaysia, our people would not be displaced from their lands and beaten and jailed for defending their rights, we would not have to bear the shame that after so many years, 40% of the rural population is without clean treated water and 33% without electricity, our native people would be highly educated and prosperous instead of struggling to make ends meet, and our landscape would not be scarred by indiscriminate massive logging and irresponsible dam projects. Our country would not have to bear the ignominy of being the 4th most corrupted nation in the world, losing RM980bil in illegal capital outflow from 2000 to 2008; our children would not have to be saddled with a dangerously high national debt caused by profligate and megalomaniacal spending and corrupt practices of the ruling elite; we would not have shockingly high numbers of deaths in custody; civil society would not have to constantly fight against unjust laws which suppress basic human rights and civil liberties; and society would not be threatened by religious and racial persecution and bigotry.
This Merdeka Day, let us reflect on the state of this country now compared to the early days, in terms of the hopes and aspirations of the people, and what has been achieved. I dare say many people are now realizing that while there has been development and advancement, far more could have been achieved had we chosen a government led by people of integrity and moral courage, and that what the country needs is a new beginning, a fresh start with a new team of leaders who are committed to building a country that we will truly be proud to call our own. Let us give ourselves a chance of that new beginning when casting our votes in the coming GE13. Vote for justice, fairness and equality for all people, regardless of race or religion.
I send felicitations to my fellow Malaysians in Peninsula Malaysia on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of Malaya’s independence from British rule. We look forward to celebrating Malaysia Day with them on 16 September when we will commemorate the formation of Malaysia. We are ever hopeful that the day will come when we will be recognized as equal partners as was the objective and intent of our founding fathers.
N70 Ba’ Kelalan/