KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — The September 16 ‘red shirts’ rally may well be the straw the breaks the camel’s back for Malaysia, a country already torn apart by the current political crisis, Lim Kit Siang warned today.
In a statement, the DAP veteran said if the event is allowed to go on, its allegedly mono-ethnic theme will see multi-racial, multi-religious Malaysia slowly unravel.
“In fact, the September 16 rally in Kuala Lumpur by Umno or to be more exact the Najib forces may be the first step to cause the disintegration of Malaysia,” Lim alleged in a statement here.
“At this very fragile period of Malaysian nation-building, when there are even voices of secession from Sabah and Sarawak because of more than half-a-century of neglect and underdevelopment of these two states, the September 16 rally in Kuala Lumpur, in whatever name, form or colour, will seriously undermine the unity, integrity and cause of Malaysia,” he added.
The rally, alternately dubbed "Himpunan Maruah Melayu" and "Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu", is expected to be held in the city centre this Malaysia Day by Malay groups wearing red shirts to counter the purported Chinese domination of the Bersih 4 rally.
Definite and accurate information on the red-shirt rally on Malaysia Day have been scarce, with initial posters leaving out the name of the organisers and touting meeting points such as Low Yat Plaza, Petaling Street and Bukit Bintang.
But on Friday, police confirmed receiving notice from the September 16 rally organiser - a little-known Malay martial arts organisation called Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan Malaysia (Pesaka) that is led by former Malacca chief minister Senator Tan Sri Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam.
Ali Rustam held a press conference yesterday confirming the group’s involvement in the event that appears to have received unofficial support from Umno but said Pesaka will pull out as organisers if the authorities reject its bid to use Padang Merbok as its venue.
It is unclear if Pesaka’s withdrawal would result in the event’s cancellation or the emergence of new organisers.
Lim, however, said today that the event, in whatever name or form, should be called off.
“It is not only a provocation to a multi-racial and multi-religious Malaysia, it threatens the unity and integrity of the Malaysian Federation formed 52 years ago.
“Equally pertinent, it will cause shame and infamy for Malaysia in the international arena,” he said.
The Gelang Patah MP said the country was already on the verge of being torn apart by recent events, calling it the “tale of two T-shirts, two rallies and two Malaysia Days”.
Explaining his remarks, Lim noted that Bersih 4’s yellow T-shirts had called for reforms to the government and fair polls. The red T-shirts for the September 16 rally, on the other hand, speaks only for Malay rights, he said.
“One was a peaceful rally to celebrate diversity and to dream of a better Malaysia for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age, gender or politics.
“The other was a provocative rally to threaten racial confrontation and divide Malaysians, when it was actually a gross abuse of the name of Malays as it was not intended to protect the ‘maruah’ of Malays, but only to protect Umno or to be more exact, Najib himself!” he charged.
Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak previously said his party does not officially support the rally, but will not stop members from attending. This message was repeated by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Noor Rashid Ibrahim previously said the rally will not be permitted to proceed due to “security implications”.