26 August 2015


Press statement: Withdrawal of Merdeka Theme a Worrying Sign of Extreme Centralisation

26 August 2015, Kuala Lumpur – The Penang state government withdrew the “Bersih, Cekap, Amanah” theme for its national day celebrations. This came following accusations from the federal government that the state government was trying to politicise national day celebrations, given the link between the word “Bersih” and the Bersih 4.0 protest planned for this weekend.

Prior to the state government’s withdrawal of the theme, schools, the police and the armed forces – all federal bodies – were barred from joining the parade or decided not to join the state celebration.

“This whole incident clearly shows how centralised our government has become and it is getting to an extreme stage,” said IDEAS’ CEO, Wan Saiful Wan Jan.

Wan Saiful added “Merdeka is a celebration for the whole country and sovereign states should be able to decide how they want to celebrate it. Merdeka is supposed to be about independence, not a day for the federal to behave like a colonial master dictating what people can or cannot do. I thought we have moved away from that in 1957, and the whole idea behind choosing to be a federation of states is that we respect the rights of states within the federation.”

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IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a cross-partisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion.

Our mission is to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and free individuals. For more information, please visit
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Media enquiries:
IDEAS (+60-3) 6201 8896/ 8897
Wan Saiful Wan Jan,

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