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The Barisan Nasional leadership and Cabinet should collectively admit the 1987 errors over Ops Lalang mass arrests and the controversy over dispatching of staff unversed in Mandarin to hold senior posts in Chinese primary schools


Media Statement        
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Thursday) : Veteran Chinese educationist Sim Mow Yu has said that Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser and former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should apologise for what he had done over the 1987 Ops Lalang mass arrests under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the controversy over dispatching of staff unversed in Mandarin to hold senior posts in Chinese primary schools. 

As one of the Ops Lalang ISA detainees served with a formal two-year detention order and incarcerated at Kamunting Detention Centre, Sim is most qualified to speak up on these subjects. 

The Ops Lalang detention was my second ISA detention, which lasted 18 months as compared to 17 months in my first ISA detention  in 1969-1970. 

DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng and I were the last two of the Ops Lalang ISA detainees incarcerated in Kamunting Detention Centre to be released in April 1989 –  serving the longest Ops Lalang ISA detention after all the other 49 Ops Lalang detainees had been earlier released from Kamunting  in various batches.  

Anwar has admitted that he was wrong in the dispatch of staff unversed in Mandarin to become principals and senior assistants of Chinese primary schools which resulted in the subsequent Ops Lalang mass arrests. 

Anwar had admitted that what he had done in 1987 was wrong and he has now taken a stand on mother-tongue education which is in accord with justice and fair play for mother-tongue education in plural Malaysia as well as the higher national interests of enhancing Malaysia’s international competitiveness. 

However, are all the current Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders who had been collectively responsible for the 1987 Ops Lalang mass arrests and controversy over dispatch of staff unversed in Mandarin to senior posts in Chinese primary schools prepared to follow the example of Anwar and admit that what they had done twenty years ago were wrong? 

Such Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders would include the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the Gerakan chief and Minister for Energy, Water and Communications, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, the MIC President and Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and the Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz. 

Najib was in 1987 the Umno Youth leader and what he did in 1987 was even more infamous than the keris-wielding incidents involving the current Umno Youth leader, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in the context of extremist and communal demands in utter disregard of the rights and sensitivities of all races in a plural nation. 

What did Najib do in 1987? A Government White Paper  entitled “Towards Preserving National Security” tabled in Parliament on 23rd March 1988 recorded that in an Umno Youth rally led by Najib on 17th October 1987, banners bearing strong words were displayed, including one which said: “SOAK IT (KRIS) WITH CHINESE BLOOD”. 

Are MCA and Gerakan leaders prepared to ask all Umno and Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders to emulate Anwar’s example and admit that they had acted wrongly in the crisis of 1987? 

Is the next Cabinet meeting prepared to end the historic wrongs in 1987 by adopting a formal Cabinet decision to openly and publicly admit that what the various Barisan Nasional component parties led by Umno had done in that year in these two episodes had been  wrong? 

Are the other Barisan Nasional component parties and leaders prepared to demand that both Najib and Hishammudin admit that they were wrong – the former for the “SOAK IT (KRIS) WITH CHINESE BLOOD” slogan at the Umno Youth rally in 1987 and latter for the keris-wielding at Umno Youth general assemblies in circumstances threatening the multi-racial fabric of our nation?


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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