A rasional public debate

Opening Speech
- at
"The Great Malaysian Debate - ISA - YES or NO"
by Loke Siew Fook

(Kuala Lumpur, Monday): The moderator of "The Great Malaysian Debate - ISA - Yes or No" Tunku Abdul Aziz, the 2 speakers of the night, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department YB Dato Mohd Nazri, DAP National Chairman and Parliamentary Opposition Leader YB Sdr Lim Kit Siang, DAP Life Adviser Sdr. Dr Chen Man Hin, YB YB Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries, YB YB Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen, Dato' Dato' and Datin' Datin', representatives from the various Embassies and High Commissions, representatives from NGOs, our DAP veteran leaders whom many of them were former ISA detainees, representatives from the media, ladies and gentlemen, saudara saudari, a very warm welcome to all of you and Salam Sejahtera!

First of all, I wish to record our sincerest appreciation to Tunku Abdul Aziz for agreeing to take his precious time off to moderate this very important debate tonight. We also like to thank both Dato' Nazri and Sdr Lim Kit Siang whom without both of them, tonight's debate will not take place at all.

It is indeed a great honour for the DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) to have the opportunity to organize this event as the subject matter is always a controversial subject whenever it was raised both in and outside the Parliament. And it is definitely an issue close to the hearts of many Malaysians - the relevance of the Internal Security Act in Malaysia.

Tonight's debate can be considered the second most important  public debate in the history of the DAP after a lapse of 36 years. If some of you can still remember, in 1968 (I was not born yet) the DAP was engaged in the big "Malaysian Cultural Debate" with Parti Gerakan which lasted in a marathon of 6 hours! Of course, in the middle, in
1987 the then DAPSY Chief Sdr Lim Guan Eng held a public debate with the MCA Youth leader Datuk Ong Tee Keat at this same venue.

Public debate is not a norm in our society. But it should not be so. We should be prepared to engage in controversial issues and debate it in a rational and mature manner. Let's show to the world tonight that we Malaysians can be agree to disagree. We hope that tonight's event will be a catalyst for more public debates to be held in Malaysia in particular between the ruling parties and the opposition and bring our democratic culture to a higher level.

I appeal to the supporters of both sides who are here tonight not to shout and yell to each other during the whole event. We are civilized and matured people. It is more than enough to show our support with just a clap. Let's ensure this event will be most peaceful and incident-free.

Last but not least, I wish to thank the police in particular  the IGP Tan Sri Bakri Omar for granting us the permit to hold this event although after much hassle. Anyway, we are thankful that finally green light was given.

With these few words, I thank all of you for showing your keen interest in this debate and I wish all of you a fruitful and enjoyable night. Thank you.  



* Loke Siew Fook, DAPSY National Secretary, NS State Assemblyman for Lobak and "The Great Malaysian Debate - ISA - YES or NO" Organizing Committee Chairman