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PETALING JAYA, Aug 22 — A slogan that resulted in students being barred from the Merdeka Day celebrations in Penang has triggered an outcry over children being dragged into politics.
Global Movement of Moderates’ chief executive officer, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, said students and teachers were being unfairly dragged into the political tussle between the state and federal governments.
“We are a federation. Was there a discussion between the federal and state governments on a standardised theme?” he asked.
“It is totally unacceptable. We should be educating our students on the importance and meaning of Merdeka ... that every citizen is equal before the law.
“This directive is setting a bad example for our students. It is shallow, divisive and partisan.”
Saifuddin said the Education Ministry was being over-sensitive about the word ‘Bersih’.
“When I was in the Malaysian Youth Council, our motto was Menegakkan Kebenaran dan Keadilan (Uphold truth and justice). When PKR was formed, people asked me to drop the word Keadilan,” he said.
“I told them to mind their own business.”
He said the political correctness and sensitivity over words should stop or there would be more irrelevant directives.
1Malaysia Foundation trustee Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it was a tradition for students and teachers to take part in the annual Merdeka celebrations and this should not be disrupted.
“Students always take part in Merdeka celebrations. Politics should not be brought in to sour a happy occasion,” he said.
“It’s one of the best opportunities for Malaysians of all races and religions to come together and share their feelings of pride and patriotism for their country.”
Lee said the directive should be revoked now that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had clarified the theme.
“We cannot let certain words cloud our judgment,” he said.