By Lim Kit Siang, MP for Gelang Patah
31st August 2014 should go down in history as the 57th Merdeka Anniversary for the nation’s independence in 1957 when the country rose from more than a year of drift and polarisation since the 13th general elections in May last year and the unprecedented twin air disasters of MH 370 and MH 17 which claimed a total of 527 lives from all over the world to forge greater national unity and purpose and build a model successful multi-racial and multi-religious nation which is united, harmonious, confident, progressive, competitive and prosperous.
But this was not the case. Instead, 31st August 2014 would go down in Malaysian history as one of its “black letter” days where one man, the Inspector-General of Police, single-handedly reduced to shambles in less than 24 hours the Prime Minister Najib Razak’s three 57th Merdeka Day messages on unity, confidence and prosperity.
Najib tried to create history this Merdeka Anniversary when he broke with the tradition of pre-recorded Merdeka speeches and spoke “live” on Merdeka Eve on Saturday night to make “eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart” connection with all Malaysians to show the spirit of patriotism.
Najib delivered three Merdeka messages for a united, competitive and prosperous Malaysia, viz:
* First Merdeka Message: Strengthen the solidarity of Malaysians, including unity in grief, in the face of challenges and tests.
* Second Merdeka Message: Cultivate confidence that we can achieve any ambitions as a nation if there is unity.
* Third Merdeka Message: Leaving behind a prosperous and peaceful Malaysia
However, Najib’s break with tradition came to nought as his three Merdeka messages of unity, confidence and prosperity were torn to shreds by the Inspector-General of Police the next morning when the No. 1 police officer in the land personally directed the mass arrests of over a hundred Voluntary Patrol Unit (PPS – Pasukan Peronda Sukarela) members in Penang immediately after their participation in the Merdeka Parade in Penang.
Instead of being a day of inspiration and reaffirmation for 30 million Malaysians to ponder and digest the Prime Minister’s three 57th Merdeka Anniversary Messages of unity, confidence and prosperity, August 31, 2014 became a day of infamy for Malaysians to cry for the nation and ask what has gone wrong with nation-building in Malaysia after more than half a century where the No. 1 Police Officer in the land could show utter contempt for the Prime Minister’s 57th Merdeka Anniversary messages of unity, confidence and prosperity as to go on a rampage on National Day to order the arrest of patriotic and exemplary citizens who were prepared to serve society and fellow-citizens by enrolling in the PPS to contribute to neighbourhood peace, harmony and security and to help out less fortunate citizens as during disasters.
The police arrest of over a hundred PPS members after taking part in the Merdeka parade in Penang yesterday morning for being illegal was a total mockery of unity message of Merdeka anniversary this year and made the country and the Prime Minister the laughing stock of the world.
Something has gone very wrong with our nation when Good Samaritans ever-ready to give of their time, energies and service to help less fortunate citizens are treated as common criminals.
The mark of a “developed and civil nation” is a keen sense of right and wrong by all in authority and never to succumb to abuses of power.
There can be no doubt that what happened in Penang two days ago is no credit to Malaysia or Najib as Prime Minister in the international arena, and the world will pass harsh judgments about Malaysia and the Prime Minister as a result of the PPS fiasco.
Silence, indifference or inaction by Najib about what happened in Penang yesterday is going to cost the country and Najib dearly in terms of international repute and esteem.
As if the twin unprecedented air disasters of MH 370 and MH17 are not enough to soil and sully Malaysia’s international reputation, the IGP must single-handedly precipitate the mass arrests of the PPS members taking part in a Merdeka Anniversary Parade!
If there are differences of opinion as to the legality of the PPS, let the matter be resolved by the courts in accordance with the law. There should be no abuse of power as in the mass arrests of PPS members taking part in National Day Parade or humiliating patriotic and law-abiding citizens by compelling them to spend their nights in the police lock-ups.
The ball is in Najib’s court.
He did nothing to ensure that over a hundred patriotic and exemplary citizens who are PPS members do not spend a night in the police lock-ups yesterday. Is he going to continue to be silent and indifferent to the mass arrests of PPS members with over a hundred of them held in custody in police lock-ups?