DAP calls on Mahathir government to spearhead a nation-wide month-long commemoration of centenary of birth of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Bapa Malaysia and first Prime Minister, on Feb. 8 starting with a National Inter-Religious Prayer Meeting and Dialogue for unity, harmony, justice and prosperity

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday): February 8 will mark the centenary of the birth of YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Bapa Malaysia and our first Prime Minister, who led the nation to independence.

History records his many contributions and the world at large acknowledges his contributions as a statesman, a nation builder and as a singularly unique historical figure. Many biographies have been written paying tribute to a man who laid the foundations for a modern, democratic, secular Malaysia welded out of a diverse mix of ethnicities.

He personified decency, a deeply-held belief in the rule of law and respect for tradition. Malaysians of all races hold him in the highest respect.

It is customary among all nations to pay tribute to their founding fathers and to remind their citizens with pride of the deep debt owed, particularly on the occasion of the birth anniversaries of such distinguished sons of the nation.

It is indeed with great sadness that I note that no plans have been made to commemorate the Tunku's centenary.

The Tunku's centenary should not be allowed to be a non-event, unmarked in any manner, and the contributions of the most illustrious son of Malaysia unacknowledged and ignored.

DAP calls on the Mahathir government to spearhead a nation-wide month-long commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Tunku Abdul Rahman.

It will in fact be an indictment of the present generation of Malaysians, both the leadership and the ordinary citizenry, if Tunku's centenary is allowed to pass without a worthy and commensurate national commemoration not only to remember his contributions and services to the nation but for the nation to pause and reflect on his legacy and injunctions to future generations of Malaysians.

Twenty years ago, on his 80th birthday on 8th February 1983, Tunku was honoured with a grand dinner hosted by the Barisan Nasional, attended by all the top Barisan Nasional leaders including the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad where the Tunku made a most memorable speech giving the important message to the Barisan Nasional leaders not to turn Malaysia into an Islamic State - which was the front-page headline in all the language newspapers the next day.

Let all political parties, religious groups, professional bodies, NGOs and all strata of the Malaysian society, regardless of race, religion, political opinion, gender, age or territory come together as one Malaysian people to honour the memory of Tunku on his centenary.

Malaysians should commemorate Tunku's centenary in specially meaningful and even unique manner to honour his memory and for the new generation of Malaysians rededicate themselves to his abiding dream for a happy, united, harmonious and prosperous Malaysia.

One unique way to commemorate Tunku's centenary will be to hold a national inter-religious prayer meeting led by the Prime Minister with the participation of leaders of all political parties - ruling and opposition - and representatives from all religious groups, professions, civic organizations and NGOs, to pray for unity, harmony, justice, prosperity and happiness for Malaysia.

Tunku's centenary will be even more meaningful and momentous if the Tunku's Centennial National Inter-Religious Prayer Meeting can be followed with the first National Inter-Religious Dialogue for National Unity and Harmony in the past three decades.

DAP is prepared to fully participate in the centenary commemoration for Tunku, whether organized by the government or by other umbrella organizations. DAP on its part will also have its own month-long commemoration programme for Tunku's centenary nation-wide.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman