KUCHING: There is no need for a new national anthem to replace Negaraku, which has been accepted and respected by Malaysians since the nation's formation, says Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
The Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said national anthems were rarely changed as they were seen as a sacred symbol of nationhood.
"When we have something sacred like that, it should be maintained. We don't simply change it as though we are following the Top 40 Billboard chart.
"If an anthem is accepted, then we respect it. Don't mock it that it was composed by foreigners or based on another song.
"The fact remains that when we formed Malaysia, all the regions agreed on Negaraku as the national anthem," he told reporters after launching the What About Kuching festival at the Old Court House here on Thursday (Oct 3).
Abdul Karim was responding to Parti Bumi Kenyalang's (PBK) call for a new national anthem to replace Negaraku.
PBK president Voon Lee Shan had said Negaraku lacked originality as it was said to be from a tune written by a French composer.
He also claimed that the Federal Government's unequal treatment of Sabahans and Sarawakians in distribution of wealth, job opportunities and development had affected their dignity as Malaysians.
"If people begin to disrespect the national anthem, then the sense of patriotism is missing because of Federal Government policies of unequal treatment," Voon was reported saying on Wednesday (Oct 2).
But Abdul Karim said political grievances should not be mixed with the matter of respecting the national anthem and flag.
He said showing disrespect to the national anthem could be seen as a sign of disloyalty.
"If we feel we are not getting back our rights which have been eroded, that is a matter of politics.
"That is for you to show your displeasure during elections, not to show your displeasure by not standing when the national anthem is played or not respecting the flag.
"Those are two different matters altogether. People must be mature enough to look at it from that angle," Abdul Karim said.