No need for new national anthem, says Sarawak minister after ‘Negaraku’ protest

Karim, in responding to Voon’s comment, said countries rarely change their national anthems. ― Picture by Farhan Najib
Karim, in responding to Voon’s comment, said countries rarely change their national anthems. ― Picture by Farhan Najib

KUCHING, Oct 3 — Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today stressed there is no need to change the national anthem Negaraku for another song, as suggested by Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK).

“There is no problem with Negaraku, but the problem lies with the people who show no respect for the national anthem,” he told reporters after opening the 6th Borneo International Beads Conference here.

PBK president Voon Lee Shan yesterday urged the federal government to come up with a new national anthem that truly reflects the Malaysian identity and culture, claiming that the present one sounded similar to the tune La Rosalie written by a French musician, Pierre-Jean de Beranger.

He claimed that many Sarawakians had lost respect for the national anthem, adding that the sense of patriotism was absent because of the federal government’s policies that led to the unequal treatment of Sarawak and Sabah.

Voon made the comments following the case of eight Sarawakians who refused to stand up when Negaraku was played at the start of a dinner, organised by a civil society group, recently.

Karim, in responding to Voon’s comment, said countries rarely change their national anthems.

“When we have something sacred, which has been agreed to at the formation of Malaysia in 1963, it should be retained.

“We don’t simply change the national anthem the way we look at the Billboard Charts,” he said, referring to the music charts that tabulate the weekly popularity of songs and albums in the United States and elsewhere.

He said Malaysians have been taught by their parents, and primary and secondary school teachers during civic classes that Negaraku is the national anthem of Malaysia.

“There is no two ways about it. You don’t, at this moment, because of politics, say that it is no longer respected by the people.

“You ask yourselves who doesn’t respect the national anthem?

“If Negaraku has been accepted, we must respect the song. You don’t say that the song was composed by a Frenchman or sounds similar to Cantonese song which was sung before Malaysia was formed,” he added.

He stressed that Sarawakians must also respect the national flag, adding that both the national flag and national anthem should not be questioned.

“If we show any sign of disrespect to the flag and Negaraku, this is a sign of disloyalty to the country,” he added.

A video clip of eight Sarawakians steadfastly remaining seated while others stood for the Negaraku has been circulating on social media.

The group leader Alex Leong, who posted the video on his Facebook account under the name Shaow Tung Leong, had said their action was a silent protest against the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whom he accused of reneging on their election pledge to give Sarawak 20 per cent oil royalty.

He said the members were also angry and frustrated at the PH government for not fully honouring the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

The eight, who are members of the Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) civil movement, are being investigated under Section 8(3) of the National Anthem Act 1968, which punishes those found guilty of violation with a fine up to RM100, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month.

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