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Election Watch

Presentation of the Merdeka Statement to the Special Select Committee on National Unity & National Service

23 November 2007, House of Parliament

The Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) was invited to present the Merdeka Statement and its contents to the Special Select Committee on National Unity & National Service on the 23rd November 2007 at the House of Parliament. Attendees of the meeting were Parliamentary Select Committee members, and other members from the National Unity Department, Parliament Secretariat and the Auditor-General's Chambers.

The presentation was presented by Tan Sri Dato' Dr Ramon V Navaratnam, Chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies to Dato' Maximus Ongkili, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department. Tan Sri Navaratnam spoke pertaining to the CPPS Merdeka Statement, which was duly distributed to all members. He explained the process in which the Merdeka Statement was compiled, having had consultation sessions with a wide range of civil society organisations representing a cross section of the Malaysian population. The purpose of the Merdeka Statement was to promote national unity in the country.

He says that a key word for all of us is 'fairness'. It applies to all people, and the lack of any part of this means our National Unity is impaired. Our spirit of perpaduan is tearing. Our confidence is declining. As a result, our next 50 years may not be as successful as the past 50 years of independence.

We are a country blessed with many resources. The greatest asset is our people - diversity is indeed our strength. However, surveys show corruption is rife and income inequalities pervade across intra and inter-ethnic segments of society. He says that meritocracy needs to be urgently practiced or else even the majority will suffer (Malays). It is the New Economic Policy (NEP) that has been the root cause of much national disunity, which should be revised and amended as necessary. Tan Sri Navaratnam also spoke on religious intolerance and of making national schools, schools of choice.

He wrapped things up by saying that we are a complex society and that we have many issues to address, which are summarised in the Merdeka Statement. We need to adopt a new agenda in order to be a greater model for the country. The Merdeka Statement was an appropriate backbone and reference document of a new agenda that could well be adopted.

On the question of the Government misdealings, Tan Sri Navaratnam stated that such cases are a reflection of the misuse and abuse of the NEP. When asked about the state of the Judiciary, he replied that the terms of reference of the Royal Commission investigating the purported videotape showing biased appointment of judges should be widened. This must be used as an opportunity to correct past wrongs for the sake of an independent judicial system.

Finally, Tan Sri clarified with Dato' Ongkili that the Merdeka Statement has been officially presented to the Committee. Dato' Ongkili stated that it will be reproduced in their report.

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