(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
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
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
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.