GEORGE TOWN, Aug 24 — After five days of insisting on using its own theme of "Bersih, Cekap, Amanah" (Clean, Fair, Trustworthy) for the upcoming Merdeka celebrations, Penang has finally decided to switch to the “Sehati Sejiwa” (One heart, One Soul) slogan set by Putrajaya.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced the state executive councillors' decision today after the armed forces announced its withdrawal from the annual Merdeka procession.
"It is with a heavy heart that we decide to withdraw the "Bersih, Cekap, Amanah" theme for the state-level Merdeka celebrations and we will use the same theme set by the federal government," he read out a statement at his office today.
He said the Penang governor, the Yang Di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas, should be given a royal salute during the Merdeka parade and without the armed forces, he would not be afforded the royal salute.
"We feel it is unacceptable as the governor is a symbol of our constitution and he must be given the royal salute during the Merdeka parade," he said.
Therefore, to ensure that the Penang governor gets the royal salute during the Merdeka celebrations, Lim said they will switch to the federal government’s theme.
"We hope that by changing the theme to be the same as the federal theme, there are no longer any issues for federal agencies including the armed forces to participate in the parade," he said.
Last week, the state Education Department told all schools here to get its approval before participating in this year's state-level Merdeka celebrations.
This was due to the state's theme that contained the word "bersih" which is deemed sensitive, according to the state Education Department director Datuk Osman Hussain.
Yesterday, the armed forces said it would not join the Penang parade, claiming the state theme was not in line with the spirit of this year’s National Day celebrations.
Lim said in the current economic and political crisis, the theme of "Bersih, Cekap, Amanah" should not be politicised by ministers like Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein.
"The ministers' behavior is immature and they had abused their powers to deny us our right to celebrate National Day together as a nation," he said.
He reiterated that Penang has been using its own themes, which differs from the federal government’s selections, for National Day celebrations since 2010 without issues.
"Now, with just one word ‘bersih’, the whole phrase ‘Bersih, Cekap, Amanah’ has been banned as if these values are no longer relevant," he said.