False and Unlawful police arrests over “No to 929” pamphlet marred the success of Kuala Lumpur International Forum on Islam 2002 (Kalif)

Media Conference Statement 
- launching of the “No 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957”  People’s Awareness Campaign at the Kampar Market 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Kampar, Monday)The reaction yesterday by the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to my second arrest by the police in Port Dickson yesterday in connection with the DAP’s “Not to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign for allegedly distributing a seditious campaign pamphlet is most disappointing and does not reflect well on him. 

Abdullah told reporters after the closing of the International Forum on Islam (Kalif) 2002 in Kuala Lumpur that the police must have proof or strong reasons to arrest me again although he did not know that I was to be arrested yesterday. 

I am surprised that Abdullah has given such a “blank cheque” to the police to do what it deemed fit, without bothering to check the facts first before commenting as to whether the police had acted properly and legally in arresting  me and five other DAP Negri Sembilan state and branch leaders yesterday. 

As Home Minister in charge of the police, it is part of his Ministerial responsibility to be ever vigilant to ensure that the police do not abuse their powers or in any manner overstep the bounds of their powers. 

In this particular case, I was arrested for the second time by the police in Port Dickson for the very same “No to 929” pamphlet for which the Ipoh Police had arrested me on June 5, and for which the original RM3,000 police bail had been cancelled on July 5, while awaiting for instructions from the Bukit Aman Police Headquarters on whether to charge me with sedition under Section 4(i)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 which entails the maximum penalty of RM5,000 fine or  three years jail or both. 

Surely, Abdullah should have enquired as to whether the Port Dickson police had acted properly in arresting me over the very same “No to 929” campaign pamphlet when the police have no instructions to charge me for sedition after some seven weeks of the incident. 

I understand that my arrest was reported in the international media yesterday, which is not good for Malaysia’s international image in terms of the state of democracy and human rights when political leaders can be arrested for distributing pamphlets to defend the integrity of the Malaysian Constitution. 

I do not relish being the subject of international media attention which is detrimental to the national interest, and reports about the poor state of human rights and democracy reflect poorly on the governance in the country, which is increasingly an important factor in the decision-making  of foreign investors whether to invest in a particular country. 

My second arrest and the second time the Sedition Act is held  hanging over my head like the Damocles’ Sword  is also doubly unfortunate, coinciding with the closing of the Kuala Lumpur International Forum on Islam 2002 (Kalif). 

The Kalif 2002, organized by the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, with the theme “Islam and Politics”, was a most  impressive  effort to gather in Malaysia some of the world’s leading Muslim thinkers to show that there are alternative progressive, moderate and modern-minded  views on Islam different and distinct from the traditional and conservative views on the religion. 

In particular, the Kalif 2002 was an opportunity for progressive Islamic thinkers to show that Islam is compatible with human rights and democracy. 

It is a credit to Malaysia to be able to host such a conference and the Deputy Prime Ministers’ Office should be commended for organizing Kalif 2002. 

It is most unfortunate that it was another one of  Abdullah’s departments, the Police, which   had marred the success of Kalif 2002  by groundless, false and unlawful police arrest of six DAP leaders and activists in Port Dickson yesterday – telling the world that whatever the grand-sounding speeches at Kalif 2002 about the compatibility of modern Islamic concepts with democracy and human rights, the reality is very different to the extent that the distribution of pamphlets in a legitimate political campaign to defend and uphold the 44-year Merdeka Constitution could be regarded as a seditious offence! 

Can Abdullah explain why he has allowed the Police to mar the success of Kalif 2002 with the false and unlawful arrests of DAP leaders and activists over the non-seditious “No to 929” pamphlet? 

Abdullah should convene an urgent meeting with the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai and the Attorney-General Datuk Gani Patail to decide once and for all the authorities’ stand on the DAP’s “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign. 

I do not want to be arrested every other day for carrying out my legitimate political activities as a Malaysian citizen and I do not think it is good for Malaysia’s international reputation for the baseless and false  police arrests of DAP leaders to be the staple of international media reports about the country – frightening off foreign investments especially at a time when Malaysia is facing the great challenge posed by China after its entry into WTO for FDI. 

There is going to be no let-up in the DAP “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” People’s Awareness Campaign, as it is to defend and uphold the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the “social contract” and the 1963 Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state – whether ala-UMNO or ala-PAS. 

If it is a sedition offence to uphold and defend the fundamental constitutional principle that Islam is the official religion but Malaysia is not an Islamic state, whether UMNO or PAS model,  then the 1957 Merdeka Constitution is a “seditious” Constitution, and the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn had all committed sedition as they had at one time or another publicly proclaimed this fundamental constitutional principle in Malaysia. 

In fact, in February 1983, Tunku Abdul Rahman made a strong and powerful call that Malaysia should not be turned into an Islamic state – which is the subject of a “No to 911, No to 929, Yes to 1957” Campaign poster.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman