WRITERS’ associations today joined Malay rights group Perkasa in questioning the lack of patriotism and the “too Chinese” flavour at the East Coast Rail Link ground-breaking yesterday.
The event launched by Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuantan yesterday allegedly lacked Malaysian symbols, such as flags at the site.
National Writers’ Association of Malaysia (Pena) president Dr Mohamad Saleeh Rahamad said it was a “tragedy that should not have happened after 60 years of independence” if the claim were true.
“Was it true that there was not a single Malaysian flag? I was not there. I can’t get simply give my view. But if it were true, it is a tragedy for a sovereign nation that has established bilateral ties with other countries.
Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali said in a statement yesterday that the group was told there were flags and banners in Chinese along the road and not a single Malaysian flag in sight.
He said it was as if the event was not held in Malaysia.
Saleeh said the government should be more sensitive when it comes to making sure the status of the Malay language, as provided in the federal constitution, was preserved.
“We hope the government pays attention to these matters. Regardless of the investment, we have a right to show our nationhood.
“This is the image of our country, an independent nation. We are not colonised even if they say our economy is colonised. If this truly happened, Pena is disappointed,” he said.
The Federation of National Writers Association (Gapena) head Associate Professor Zainal Abidin Borhan shared Saleeh’s sentiments.
He said he feared this was only the start of a foreign power’s indirect colonisation of Malaysia.
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“We fear that this is just the state. Next, all projects with Chinese contractors will have Chinese writing. We hope that every official function attended by the prime minister is held in Bahasa Melayu.
“The government and its leaders, including bureaucrats, government-linked corporations and technocrats, must be mindful of sovereignty. Every inch of land is subject to that sovereignty, which has to be respected.”
Present at yesterday’s event were China state council vice-premier Wang Yang, China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC) executive director and chairman Liu Qitao, and Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) chairman Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.
Pahang Umno Youth, however, denied that the ceremony was unpatriotic and pro-China.
Its leader, Shahar Abdullah, said there were Malaysian performances on stage and ushers in traditional Malay attire.
“The prayer was recited in Malay. The jalur gemilang flag was fixed on the main stage.
“There was no loss of Malaysian identity just because we have the ECRL. It is only our own people who do not instil patriotism and love the country. They only know how to criticise online, spreading false news,” he said in a statement.
The Malaysian Insight did a check online and found a blog with pictures of the entire event, refuting Perkasa’s claims.
One of the photos showed Najib speaking on a stage decorated with the jalur gemilang.