KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran politician Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir has congratulated Bersih for a successful programme last weekend but speculated that it would have received more support if it had chosen a different time for the rallies.
Speaking to FMT, he noted that the 34-hour rally proceeded without causing untoward incidents, except for the decision of a few protesters to stamp their feet on images of Prime Minister Najib Razak and PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang.
“I must compliment Maria Chin Abdullah and her team for doing a good job organising this particular demonstration, which went on very well without incidents,” he said.
But he said the rallies might have been more successful if they had been held on a different date.
“I really can’t understand why they chose August 29 and 30, just before Merdeka Day,” he said. “If they had chosen some other time, with the present circumstances, they would have gotten more support.”
The “present circumstances” was a reference to the current political and economic crises.
He said Najib should be “very very worried” over the “very strong groundswell” against him.
Referring to the desecration of Najib’s and Hadi’s pictures, he advised rally organisers in future to try to ensure that “opportunists” would not take advantage of noble causes.
“We have a picture of two human beings, the leaders of two mass-based parties which represent about 60% of the population. You go and step on their faces. That really spoils everything. Suddenly it became a race thing. We have the Rukun Negara’s principles of courtesy and morality. We don’t do this; this is not Malaysia,” he said.
“Don’t give a chance to these opportunist to destroy everything.”
Kadir said he was “naturally uneasy” with protest demonstrations being held in the Merdeka month, having served as the Chairman of the Merdeka Celebration Committee for seven years from 1999. He was then the Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism.
He said one of the things he achieved was to ensure political unity during the Merdeka celebrations. He said he met personally with DAP and PAS leaders to plead with them to avoid raising political issues during the Merdeka month. As a result, he said, “We were very united in celebrating Bulan Kemerdekaan.”
He also claimed to be the first person to propose that September 16 be celebrated as Malaysia Day. “Sabah and Sarawak were very happy” when he came up with the idea, he said.
However, he added, he met with a lot of resistance from national leaders. “They said, ‘No, it will confuse a lot of people. Let’s stick to August 31.’”