Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 28th October 2008: 

Is there not a single Umno, MCA, Gerakan, MIC MP who dare to emulate PRS MP Billy Abit Joo to support a parliamentary debate on the review of ISA – and if so, why do they want to get elected into Parliament?

Is there not a single Umno, MCA, Gerakan or MIC MP (including Minister/Deputy Minister) in Peninsular Malaysia who dare to emulate Sarawak BN MP, Billy Abit Joo (Parti Rakyat Sarawak) to support a parliamentary debate on the review of the Internal Security Act (ISA) – and if so, why do they want to get elected into Parliament?

Barisan Nasional MPs from whichever component party cannot remain blind, deaf and dumb to the increasingly widespread and popular demand from all sectors of Malaysian society for review and repeal of the draconian Internal Security Act, which stands as a symbol of the lack of democracy and rule of law in the country.

Yesterday, October 27, was the 21st anniversary of the Operation Lalang mass ISA arrests in 1987, with 13 MPs among 106 persons arrested under the infamous detention-without-trial law.

If the BN MPs suffer from amnesia of history of what happened two decades ago, they cannot be unaware of the blatant and scandalous abuse of the ISA only last month when the ISA was used against the latest trio of ISA victims – Sin Chew senior reporter Tan Hoon Ching, DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin on completely baseless grounds.

In recent weeks, MCA and Gerakan leaders have been making headlines with their demands for the review and repeal of ISA – but all these noises are made just for “syiok sendiri” and out of the hearing or presence of top Umno leaders.

Both MCA and Gerakan annual conferences this month passed resolutions on the review of the ISA but this is only for party and public relations consumption but never meant to be pursued seriously in Parliament or Cabinet.

This is why there is not a single MCA or Gerakan MP (including Minister/deputy Minister) who can emulate Billy Abit Joo to put his signature to support the requisition for a priority debate in Parliament on the review and repeal of ISA.

The requisition, which has the support of 85 MPs (81 Pakatan Rakyat, three Independent and one Barisan Nasional) is not committing any MP to a stand to repeal the ISA but only to support priority debate in Parliament on whether the ISA should be reviewed and repealed.

Even MPs who want to retain the ISA can support the requisition for a priority parliamentary debate on the ISA as it is very clear that there has been radical deviation from the original purpose and character of the ISA when it was enacted by Parliament in 1960 – what more, in the case of MPs in MCA and Gerakan who have just been entrusted by their national delegates with the specific mandate to demand the review and even repeal of ISA?

I reject the explanation by the new MCA Youth chief and Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Wee Ka Siong why MCA MPs cannot join 85 MPs (including Billy Abit Joo) to requisition the holding of a parliamentary debate on the review of the ISA.

He claimed that the MCA have “our own way of resolving matters”, that “the right forum is the Cabinet”, even claiming authority for this approach by declaring that Malaysia is following the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy.

Everybody knows that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had publicly slapped down the call for review of the ISA when he spoke at the opening of the 55th MCA General Assembly ten days ago.

Which of the four MCA Ministers are going to raise the MCA General Assembly resolution for a review of the ISA in the Cabinet? I am sure none, especially as one MCA Minister is not very sure about his Cabinet tenure after losing out in the MCA Deputy President election while the new MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Kiat would be more preoccupied about ensuring “smooth sailing” for his recommendations to the Prime Minister for MCA appointments in government.

If MCA Ministers dare not raise the ISA review in Cabinet and MCA Deputy Ministers and MPs dare not even support a requisition for priority parliamentary debate on a ISA review, what is the use of having MCA represented in Parliament?

As for Malaysia practising Westminster model of parliamentary democracy, let me remind not just MCA but all BN Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MPs that this had not prevented some 140 Labour Party MPs from voting against the British government’s motion on Iraq War in March 2003 on a matter of conscience and public policy.

Nobody is asking any MCA or BN MP to go against the Barisan Nasional government but to support a requisition to the Prime Minister that there should be priority parliamentary debate on the question of a review of the ISA.

Let Presidents of UMNO, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and the Sabah and Sarawak BN component parties declare whether they have prohibited their MPs from supporting the requisition by 85 MPs for an urgent debate on the ISA review?

If this is an impossible mission to them, then there should be an immediate stop to all the chest-thumping claims by UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders that they have learnt the lessons of the March 8 “political tsunami” and that they are going to be articulate and outspoken as they are nothing but just hogwash!

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