Merdeka Day bash at Bukit Jalil Stadium a set-back for nation-building by 55 years

Last night, in response to the Malaysiakini report “Bukit Jalil Merdeka Day bash for invites only”, I penned five tweets, viz:

  1. Scandalous! Outrageous! What Merdeka D bash is this? Bukit Jalil Merdeka Day bash is invite only — Sara Ghazie (Mkini)

  2. “Got like that one meh?” exclamation will be heard throughout country when Malaysians read “Bukit Jalil Merdeka Day bash is invite only”

  3. No better proof of BN hijacking Merdeka Day celebrations — 1st BN election slogan of “Janji Ditepati” n now 100k Stadium largely BN invites

  4. With MerdekaDay bash BtJalil Stadium hijacked by BN pumped up by rent-MerdekaDay-crowds, all pretence of 1Malaysia inclusive thrown 2winds

  5. What irony 4Najib’s 1Msia signature slogan! “Bukit Jalil Merdeka Day bash is invite only” has set back nation-building in Msia by 55 years!

This morning, the Minister for Information, Communications and Culture, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim “clarified” that the official Merdeka Day celebration at Bukit Jallil Stadium on Friday is opened to the public, saying:

The allegation made by certain people that the Merdeka 55 gathering at Bukit Jalil will be only for invitees is not true.

It is deplorable for certain opposition leader to try to foil what is to be the rakyat’s right to commemorate nation’s 55th birthday.

Rais need not be so coy as he could name me as the one who had responded to the Malaysiakini report on the Malaysian twitterverse.

If I am wrong or mistaken, I am prepared to retract and apologise as I have no intention to spoil, foil or sabotage the Merdeka Day bash planned by the Barisan Nasional government at Bukit Jalil Stadium, although I strongly disagree with the manner in which the Barisan Nasional is hijacking the 55th Merdeka Day/49th Malaysia Day celebrations, causing even greater division and dissension among Malaysians instead of sparking a transcending sense of Malaysian one-ness rising above race, religion, region or political affiliation in keeping with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia policy on both these national celebrations.

However, as a result of Rais’ comments, I have revisited the Malaysiakini report last night as well as my five tweets to ascertain whether I have inadvertently made any mistakes or whether the Malaysiakini report had erred. But I have found neither.

There is no denial or retraction of the statement attributed to the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry secretary-general Kamaruddin Siaraf that members of the public could only witness the 55th Merdeka Day “bash” from four screens outside the Bukit Jalil stadium.

This has been further confirmed by the seating arrangement released by Kamaruddin yesterday where only VIPs, BN component party members, civil servants, schoolchildren and other specially-picked groups — including two minor BN-friendly political parties, Indian Progressive Front (IPF) and Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) — have been allocated seats in the 100,000-seat capacity stadium.

The Malaysiakini report last night stated that Kamaruddin, when asked why opposition parties were not included in the seating plan, said that “opposition party members could join the rest of the crowd outside the stadium”.

He said dismissively: “They can come on the ‘tiket rakyat’ (people’s ticket) No problem”.

After reviewing the Malaysiakini reports last night and Rais’ comments today, I stand by my five tweets last night that the Merdeka Day bash at Bukit Jalil Stadium is scandalous, outrageous and a set-back for nation-building by 55 years when Malaysian public are excluded from the 100,000-seat capacity stadium which is reserved for “BN invites” only.

Clearly the Najib administration has never heard or understood the statement “The People Are the Boss” in a parliamentary democracy.

How much would the Merdeka Day bash at Bukit Jalil Stadium cost? Would Barisan Nasional pay for the bash from the BN coffers?

As the Malaysian taxpayers will have to pay for the Merdeka Day bash at Bukit Jalil Stadium, how can the Malaysian public be treated as “outsiders”, relegated to outside the stadium to watch from four screens? They might as well stay at home to watch the live telecast instead!

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur