KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — The police said it will join the Penang Merdeka Day celebrations, despite schools being instructed to skip it due to the word “Bersih” in the theme of the state event that the government said was linked to the Bersih 4 rally.
Local daily The Star reported Penang police chief Comm Datuk Wira Abdul Rahim Hanafi as saying that the state government’s “Bersih, Cekap, Amanah” theme for the celebration aligns with the police’s principles.
“This is the state government’s theme and we will participate in the parade. The slogan is also in line with the police force’s principles,” he was quoted saying.
This contrasts with the Armed Forces who yesterday said that it would not join the Penang parade as the theme of “Bersih, Cekap Amanah”, claiming it was not in line with the spirit of this year’s National Day celebration.
It instead backed the federal government’s theme this year of “Sehati, Sejiwa” (One Heart, One Soul).
Last week, Penang state education director Datuk Osman Hussain issued a directive to Penang schools not to join the Merdeka Day celebrations there without approval from the Education Ministry, owing to the state government’s selection of “Bersih” as its theme this year.
Just a day after Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said on Saturday the ministry was reviewing its directive to Penang students against joining the state-level Merdeka celebrations, his deputy said the move was done to protect them from the state government’s alleged political motivations.
According to The Star, Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon said the Penang government had subsequently switched its initial Merdeka slogan from “Bersih” to “Bersih, Cekap, Amanah”, also pointing out the link of the word “Bersih” to electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0’s Bersih 4 rally scheduled this weekend.
“Do you want our students to go onto the streets supporting a rally and the Bersih theme? It is obviously a political move,” he reportedly yesterday said after opening the Penang MCA Youth annual general meeting.
The Bersih 4 rally, which aims to pressure the government for institutional reforms, will kick off on August 29 and aims to continue overnight in a campout in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching in Sarawak and Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.