- Download HERE the "Merdeka Statement" (.pdf file)
"... WE (the Government) believe in OUR ways.
It is surprising that the group of 42, which is regarded as a group of highly educated people, CANNOT see the reality.
This is regrettable and the majority of the people in the country are offended ... a clever attempt to SPLIT the people.
To strengthen and improve national unity, the Government will accede to the people’s wishes and NOT the wishes of THIS group of 42. "
-Zainuddin Maidin, Information Minister
Excerpts: Read here for more on Govt's response
On 2nd August 2007, Mirzan Mahathir, the President of the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI) of the Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS), officially launched the Merdeka Statement at the Eastin Hotel.
Mirzan Mahathir emphasised that the Merdeka Statement is a ‘living document’ and hopes that it will continue to be discussed, debated and improved upon.
Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Bernard Giluk Dompok, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department delivered the keynote address.
In his welcoming address, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Ramon V Navaratnam, Chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies, said the Merdeka Statement is a product of consultations between the CPPS and over 40 different organisations.
The official launch was followed by a brief overview of the Merdeka Statement’s eight strategic thrusts ("the citizen's wish list"):
1. Strengthening National Unity,
2. Enhancing International Competitiveness,
3. Creating an Innovation Economy,
4. Redressing Imbalances,
5. Reinforcing Institutions,
6. Reforming Education,
7. Ensuring Quality of Life, and
8. Improving Governance and Fighting Corruption
A lively panel discussion followed on the Merdeka Statement by Rev Dr Hermen Shastri representing the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism; Ms Ivy Josiah, Executive Director of the Women’s Aid Organisation; Mr Andrew Khoo representing the Malaysian Bar Council and Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim, Member of Parliament for Kota Bahru who was represented by Mr Dipendra Harshad Rai. Read here for more
Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said the Government would NOT accept the list as something that could be considered.
He said the citizens’ wish list issued does not represent the aspirations and wishes of the people nor does it reflect the reality.
The Information Minister told reporters, when asked to comment on the citizens’ wish list initiated by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), in commemoration of Malaysia’s 50th anniversary of independence:
On National Unity (The First Agenda)
"THIS is NOT a citizens’ wish, but the wish of a handful of people.
This is uncalled for.
They (42 NGOs) are an elite group which cannot be considered as representing the people and are not a group representing the feelings of the people below and they are removed from the heart and pulse of the people.
It is surprising that the group of 42, which is regarded as a group of highly educated people, cannot see the reality.
This is regrettable and the majority of the people in the country are offended ... a clever attempt to split the people.
WE (government) believe in OUR ways.
To strengthen and improve national unity, the government will accede to the people’s wishes and NOT the wishes of THIS group of 42. "
Zainuddin said the FIRST (agenda) pertaining to efforts to strengthen national unity was unacceptable because it was not based on the reality and the unity achieved since independence.
Zainuddin said the FIRT agenda in the list bordered on racism and did NOT take into consideration the values that have been accepted by Malaysians all this while.
The FIRST agenda states:
" New sustained efforts are urgently needed to rebuild national unity as ethnic, linguistic and religious divides have deepened, causing genuine pain and hurt to many in the nation."According to Zainuddin,
Zainduddin described their (42 NGOs) approach as extremely chauvinistic.
"This is a statement that ignores the reality acknowledged by the world and the people as well as Malaysia’s achievments since independence.
One thing that is recognised by the world and has been a model (for the world) is the unity of the people and their ability to live in harmony."
He said said the principles of the country’s independence were based on a social contract that had been accepted all this while by the majority of the people and strengthened by the New Economic Policy which is aimed at balancing the economic status of the various races in the county.
He said most of the other agendas listed, including those on developing a world-class education system, enhancing international competitiveness and remaining engaged with the global economy, were not new to the government.
"All these had been in practice for a long time and Malaysia was more advanced than several other big nations in recognising the importance of a global economy and a free and open market."What the People Want in the Merdeka Statement (Read here for more)
These are what the PEOPLE WANT ("the wish list) the Government to do:
- Strengthen national unity.
New sustained efforts are urgently needed to rebuild the national unity as ethnic, linguistic and religious divides have deepened, causing pain and hurt to many in the nation;
- Enhance international competitiveness.
The country must remain engaged with global economy, rapidly and continually adapting to maintain competitiveness by adopting international best practices;
- Create an innovation economy.
An innovation policy should be developed as part of existing plans and policies within trade and services industries;
- Redress imbalances.
Imbalances -- poverty, intra-ethnic and inter-gender income inequalities -- need to be redressed with newer strategies and more vigorous effort;
- Reinforce the institutions of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
The government needs to further strengthen the key institutions and ensure their independence in reflecting values of good governance;
- Reform education
Radical change of mindset is needed to bring about a paradigm shift in rethinking education, in developing a world-class Malaysian education system;
- Ensure quality of life
The government needs to ensure the people's quality of life can be improved through sustainable development initiatives; and
- Improve governance, fight corruption.
The principles of transparency, integrity, accountability and responsibility must be strictly upheld and enforced in all sectors of society.