Pak Lah starts blogging, focuses on unity


Former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made a surprising entry into the blogosphere today with a posting on Malaysia Day and unity. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 16, 2014.

Published: 16 September 2014

Troubled by the tone and the increasing rancour in Malaysia, former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has made a surprising entry into the blogosphere.

Pak Lah, as he is affectionately known, posted his first entry on today on Malaysia Day and shared his views on the meaning of independence and unity.

“As Malaysians, we are very proud of the diversity in our nation and we have promoted it around the world as an impressive treasure.

“But lately, many among us focus not on our diversity, but on our differences in political views, race, religion, and living standards.
“Such differences if left unchecked will escalate into fights that know no bounds,” he wrote in the posting “Erti kemerdekaan dan perpaduan” (“The meaning of independence and unity”).

Abdullah, who was prime minister from 2003 to 2009, said tolerance and mutual respect among the people had diminished.

The freedom to speak in social media and other sites on the Internet had been used to express racial anger, he said.

“I am sad to see what is happening in our country, despite all the efforts put into forging unity among the races,” he wrote

Abdullah said the people were feeling less spirited in celebrating the Merdeka season from August 31 to Malaysia Day today.

He added that such feelings should not be something seasonal.

“We must ‘merdeka’ (be free or independent) in our hearts and be united in our souls.

“We cannot only be united when celebrating something or in facing a tragedy or disaster. Unity must be with us in our hearts all the time, not just seasonal,” he wrote.

Abdullah also said unity must not be forced on the people by frightening them because it could lead to fights.

He said that the May 13, 1969 racial riots should be a lesson to all but not something to be brought up all the time.

“Stop bringing it up. We should look ahead towards the future.”

He said it was normal for people to have different views in a democracy but that it should not lead to fights.

“The government chosen democratically must be given the chance to govern, whether it is Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat.

“The same goes for leaders. If a leader is chosen, let him have his chance to run the government fairly and justly,” he wrote.

Abdullah said even leaders were human and made mistakes, and if necessary, they should be advised.

He said if the people were not satisfied with anything, they should speak up but with courtesy and in keeping with the practices of democracy.

Abdullah said it was not his intention to discuss arguments between the races about matters like the special rights of the Malays, the status of Islam as the official religion and the right to profess other religions for non-Malays.

“I am not discussing them here because I realise that I may not have the answers to them now.

“All I want is to remind everyone that this is our country where our blood spills together.

“We must preserve the blessing and happiness God has bestowed on us all. Happy Malaysia Day,” he said. – September 16, 2014.

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