Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Monday, 20th October 2008 at 12 noon: 

If MCA and Gerakan MPs (including Ministers/Deputy Ministers) dare not support a parliamentary debate on review of ISA, what is the use of MCA and Gerakan passing resolutions on ISA in their national conferences

DAP MP for Seputeh and Selangor Senior Exco, Teresa Kok Suh Sim has given notice to move a motion deploring the Internal Security Act (ISA) detention of Sin Chew senior reporter Tan Hoon Cheng, blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin and herself last month and to call for the repeal of the draconian and undemocratic detention-without-trial law.

Teresa’s motion on the ISA is listed No. 41 on today’s Order Paper. Together with 33 other private member’s motion, Teresa’s ISA motion would not have a chance to see the light of day and being debated in Parliament unless the Barisan Nasional government agrees to amend the Order Paper
to give it priority over all other parliamentary business.

Yesterday, the MCA’s 55th annual general assembly adopted a resolution urging the Government to review the Internal Security Act and establish a check and balance system to ensure that it strictly applies to terrorism and cases with subversive elements.

A week ago, the Gerakan’s 37th national delegates conference passed the resolution calling for the repeal of the ISA and the introduction of an anti-terrorism law in accordance with a proposal by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

The main burden of the speech by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his capacity as Barisan Nasional (BN) Chairman at his last outing at the MCA general assembly on Saturday was to scoff at suggestions that Umno is the domineering partner in BN and to deny that UMNO is a “bully” vis-à-vis other parties in BN.

However, Abdullah’s denial totally lacked credibility not only from the rich catalogue of past instances of Umno as “bully in BN”, but in the summary and cavalier manner in which he rejected the MCA call for review of the ISA – stating categorically that there are no plans to review the ISA.

Are the other BN component parties “equal partners” in BN, or are they just supplicants or “beggars” to quote former Gerakan President, Tun Dr. Lim Keng Yaik after his retirement from politics to describe the relationship of the other BN component parties to UMNO after his retirement from politics?

If “power sharing” among the BN component parties is meaningful and genuine, and not just empty talk, then the considered proposals of the BN component parties, particularly resolutions adopted at their respective annual conferences, should be given serious consideration by the government-of-the-day.

If resolutions adopted at Umno general assemblies are virtually adopted as government policy of the day, while resolutions of MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP and the BN Sabah and Sarawak component parties are completely ignored and dismissed with contempt, how can Umno claim that it is not “domineering” and not a “bully in BN”?

As both the MCA and Gerakan national conferences have adopted resolutions calling for the review and even repeal of the ISA, this has become a test of whether power sharing in BN continues to be a farce, Umno continues with its domineering and bully ways in BN while MCA and Gerakan continue as supplicants and beggars – or whether the BN coalition is to be reconstituted on a more equitable basis to reflect a meaningful power-sharing concept.

If MCA and Gerakan MPs (including Ministers/Deputy Ministers) dare not support a parliamentary debate on review of ISA, what is the use of MCA and Gerakan passing resolutions on ISA in their national conferences?

I am raising this point as I am calling on all MPs, whether Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional, to support a joint call to the Prime Minister to give government consent to move Teresa’s ISA motion from No. 41 to the very top of the parliamentary business, so that it could be debated in Parliament.

Abdullah should not usurp the powers of Parliament and allow Parliament to decide whether there should be a review and repeal of ISA, especially in view of the resolutions passed by both MCA and Gerakan annual conferences making the very same call.

I have no doubt that the majority of the 13-party BN coalition would support the review and repeal of the ISA.

In fact, if a vote is taken in the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council on whether to review and repeal the ISA, allowing each component party to vote according to its mandate given by its national congress, the outcome could be 12-1 or 11-2 in favour of review and repeal.

Isn’t Umno behaving like the “big bully in BN ” in refusing to consider review and repeal of ISA when Umno is outnumbered by 12-1 or 11-2 in BN on this important question about human rights and democracy in Malaysia?

Furthermore, the call for the abolition of ISA has the support of the civil society as demonstrated by the endorsement of 363 organisations for the mass petition to repeal the ISA in a ceremony in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The "Free MP Teresa Kok" parliamentary caucus will meet tomorrow and I will suggest that the caucus, apart from broadening the scope of its terms of reference to work for the repeal of the ISA as Teresa has been released after a eight-day ISA stint, endorse the campaign to get all MPs genuinely concerned about ISA and shocked by the gross abuses of the draconian law to sign a joint petition to the Prime Minister to bring up Teresa’s ISA motion so that it could be debated when Parliament reconvenes after the Deepavali holidays on Oct. 29.

This would be particularly significant as a debate on Teresa’s ISA motion on Oct. 29 could serve as Parliament marking the 11th anniversary of the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987 when four MPs at the time and who are still in Parliament were among 106 persons detained arbitrarily under the ISA – namely Karpal Singh, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, Lim Guan Eng and myself.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor