Chor Chee Heung should apologise for his deplorably unfeeling,  insensitive and offensive  description  of  the hunger strike of the six ISA detainees as  “blackmail” which was  like the 1963 comment  of  Madam Nhu mocking the self-immolation of Vietnamese monks as “barbecue with foreign gasoline”

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Sunday): Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung should apologise for his deplorably unfeeling, insensitive and offensive comments yesterday about the hunger strike of the six ISA reformasi activists, Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor, Hishamuddin Rais, Chua Tian Chang, Saari Sungib, Badrulamin Bahron and Lokman Noor Adam, which has  entered into its 12th day, protesting their anniversary detention and demanding that they should be charged in open court or released under the Internal Security Act.  

Chor alleged that the hunger strike of the six ISA detainees was a “blackmail” and declared that the government would not succumb to them or pay them their “ransom”. (Chinese press) 

Chor’s language and mentality is most shocking and reminds Malaysians of another callous, unfeeling and insensitive episode in the recent history of a neighbouring country, South Vietnam.  

The most enduring memory of the Vietnam War for most people was the  fateful day in early June, 1963, when  a 73-year-old Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc sat in a lotus position on a busy Saigon street and, after having been soaked with gasoline by a fellow monk,  set himself on fire - and this incredible act of protest against persecution of the Buddhists  galvanised Vietnamese and world opinion against the oppressive Ngo Dinh Diem regime.  

Madam Nhu, the sister-in-law of President Diem and virtual First Lady of South Vietnam  as Diem never got  married, mocked the self-immolation of Vietnamese Buddhist monks as “barbecue by imported gasoline” and expressed her willingness to “provide the gasoline for the next barbecue".  

In all, over 100 monks and nuns immolated themselves for peace during the Vietnam war.  

Chor is doing a Madam Nhu in his callous, unfeeling and insensitive comment about the six ISA detainees trying to “blackmail” the government with their hunger strike - when the hunger strike is the desperate final measure of the six detainees to vindicate their fundamental human rights which are recognised universally, i.e. the right to a  public trial for the serious charges of being involved in a militant plot for the violent overthrow of the elected government to prove their innocence or to be restored their personal liberties! 

Chor’s levelling of a new charge of “blackmail”  against the six ISA reformasi also  invokes memory of another historical episode of callous, unfeeling and insensitive response from the powers-that-be.   Before the French Revolution, when the  lower classes of France were starving and were demanding  for bread, the French Queen Marie Antoinette told the starving people to eat cake!  

Chor should be ashamed of his callous, unfeeling and insensitive comments as well as his refusal to sympathise or understand the plight of the six ISA detainees and he should withdraw and apologise for the Madam Nhu remarks. 

The Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should dissociate himself from Chor’s callous, unfeeling and insensitive comments and set up a high-powered task force to immediately resolve the 12-day hunger strike of the ISA detainees.  

Even more important, he should make sure that there are no hidden Madam Nhus and Marie Antoinettes in the government as they make a total mockery of the Barisan Nasional’s claim to be a caring government.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman