KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Opposition stalwart Lim Kit Siang today joined the chorus of veteran politicians criticising a rally for Malay dignity tomorrow, saying that the event undermines the very foundations that make Malaysia a nation.
The DAP parliamentary leader echoed the statements of old rivals Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, who have panned proponents of the Himpunan Maruah Melayu or Malay Dignity Rally for peddling racial sentiments at the expense of the country.
“I have had great political differences with Mahathir and Rafidah in the past, but on the big issues of right and wrong for the sake of the country, all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age, politics or the past, must be prepared to stand on a common platform to save Malaysia from petty, narrow, parochial and selfish interests,” Lim said in a statement.
“I want to state very clearly that in my nearly 50 years in politics, I had never fought for Chinese, but for Malaysians embracing all Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and Orang Asli whose home is Malaysia and no other country,” he added.
Earlier today, former prime minister Dr Mahathir said the “red shirts” rally – so-called due to their choice of T-shirt colour – was unnecessary as its true objective was not to fight for the Malays but instead as a mere counter-rally to the Bersih 4 overnight rally over the Merdeka weekend.
Several days earlier, Rafidah stressed at a public lecture that talk of defending the “Tanah Melayu”, the preferred term by Malay nationalists to refer to the peninsula, is no longer relevant due to the fact that they now live in Malaysia.
Lim today stressed that Malaysians cannot allow themselves to be held at ransom by groups bent on sowing racial distrust and animosity, adding that the 52nd anniversary of Malaysia’s formation tomorrow will serve “as a mirror to show up who are the Malaysian patriots, knaves and traitors”.
The Gelang Patah MP noted, however, that the people need not make a public affirmation of their loyalty to the country as it is more than enough that each and every Malaysian looks beyond race and embrace the fact that they are all Malaysians.
“It is not necessary to shout out this reaffirmation of our Malaysian “heart and soul”, as all that suffice is for every Malaysian tomorrow to make this reaffirmation as a Malaysian even in the quiet and solitude of their home or workplace, for from this reaffirmation a powerful force will arise that will save Malaysia from division, disunity and disaffection,” he said.
The authorities have allowed the September 16 rally, organised by Malay martial arts group Pesaka, to be held at Padang Merbok in the capital city.
There has been mixed messaging over the rally, with the Coalition of Malay NGOs selling red T-shirts promoting the demonstration with slogans in Bahasa Malaysia like “Malay Dignity Uprising” and calling it “Himpunan Maruah Melayu” [Malay Dignity Rally].
Rally organiser Pesaka, however, has insisted that the event is called “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” [United People’s Rally] and that it is open to all Malaysians. The silat group has also said that there was no “red shirt” dress code.