Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP 28th National Day Reception to honour YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj as Bapa Malaysia at Dewan Hang Tuah, Malacca on Friday, 30th August 1985 at 5.30 p.m.
Call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by Tunku Abdul Rahman to inquire into the problems of National Unity to prepare Malaysia for the 21st century in 15 years’ time
YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj, Distinguished Guests, Saudara—Saudara dan Saudari—saudari:
We are gathered here for two purposes: Firstly for the DAP to celebrate the 28th National Day and secondly, for the DAP to honour YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj as Bapa Malaysia for his unique contribution and services to the country.
The National Day theme for this year is Nasionalisme Teras Perpaduan.
Nationalism, the patriotic love of Malaysia by all Malaysians, is the sine quo non for the viability and durability of the Malaysian nation. It is the most powerful force which could weld the Malaysian people of diverse races, languages, religions, culturees and even political beliefs into one united people to defend Malaysia’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity in the event of external threat or aggression.
On this occasion of the 28th National Day, when a second generation of post—Merdeka Malaysians have already been born — as those born after Merdeka Day 1957 have already started producing their off springs — Malaysia never had a more nationalistic population. All Malaysians have only one common motherland — Malaysia. They have no other homeland, nor other national loyalty or allegiance. Their ancestral ethnic ties have no nationalistic meaning or relevance whatsoever.
The nationalistic spirit of Malaysians is most pronounce when Malaysians go abroad. A few years ago, when I was in Australia, I noted that the Malaysian Chinese students there have nothing in common with the Singapore Chinese, Hong Kong Chinese or Chinese from other countries, and that they find greater affinity with other Malaysians, whether Malays, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans.
In holding this 28th National ay Celebration, the DAP hopes to make a contribution to make Malaysians realise that whatever their differences, whether of race, religion, language, culture or political ideology, they are first and last Malaysians, and secondly, by helping to elevate the National ay into a national occasion for Malaysians to temporarily put aside their differences and promote the national spirit and national unity by focussing on our common heritage purpose and destiny.
In this light, the ceremony today for the DAP to honour YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj as Bapa Malaysia takes on a special significance and dimension.
This must be the first time that the Tunku is being honoured by an Opposition Party. The signal honour is ours.
The DAP and the Tunku had our differences, but these do not detract from the Tunku’s greatness as Father of Independence, the main spirit behind our Constitution and system of parliamentary democracy, and his contribution to nation building.
Although Tunku retired as the nation’s first Prime Minister in 1970, his influence and stature as Bapa Malaysia had grown with each passing year, and he has become a national institution and asset as the father—figure for all Malaysians.
Through his weekly newspaper columns, the Tunku has exercised enormous influence over political and national developments in the last decade, and helped to solve or defuse many a controversial and touchy situation.
We thank the Tunku for graciously agreeing to be present today to give us the privilege to honour him for his role as Bapa Malaysia, bringing Independence to the nation, laying the framework of parliamentary democracy, building unity out of Malaysian diversity, and after his retirement from active politics, his continuing influence over the nation’s destiny as the Elder Statesman in Malaysia.
If our National Days are not just march—pasts, parades, processions and fireworks displays, but used to celebrate the Malaysian national spirit, where all differences are temporarily put aside for all Malaysians to get together to acknowledge their fundamental unity, to respect and honour each other as Malaysians or as Malaysian national leaders, we could make greater headway in the task of nation building.
Returning to the National Day theme of ‘Nationalisme Teras Perpaduan’, it must be duty of all Malaysians to ensure that nationalisme does not merely have an external face, to unite Malaysians to repel aggressors to defend our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It must also have a internal face as a force which could promote national unity out of our diversity and propel greater economic development leading to greater justice and equality in our society.
We must concede that Malaysian nationalism is weak in its inner applications. In recent years, all leaders have publicly ackhowledged the gravity of the problem of racial polarisation in Malaysia. Only two days ago, it reported that racial polarisation has reared its ugly head in Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.
Although Tunku is now 82, I believe that he has still many active and productive years ahead of him. May I suggest that a Royal Commission of Inquiry, headed by Tunku Abdul Rahman, to inquire into the problems of national unity in Malaysia, to strengthen the inner applications of Malaysian nationalism ad prepare Malaysia to face the 21st century in 15 years’ time, would be another great contribution of the Tunku to the country and people.
Finally, on behalf of the DAP, I salute you, YTM Tunku, for your unique and unsurpassed contribution to Malaysia in your role a Bapa Malaysia.