When police regards balloons to call for elected local government as dangerous as bombs in Indonesia, something is very wrong about the democratic mindset and commitment in Malaysia
Media Conference Statement
- at the Dang Wangi Police Station
by Lim Kit Siang
(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also the Minister for Internal Security, should act urgently and decisively to squash the Kuala Lumpur police arrests of DAP MP for Bukit Bintang, Fung Kui Lung, the Perak State Assembly Opposition Leader and DAP Perak State Assemblyman for Sitiawan, Ngeh Koo Ham, and four other DAP leaders, terminate all police investigations and actions to send a loud and clear message that there is democratic space under his administration for Malaysians to peacefully voice their legitimate hopes and aspirations and that the hard-pressed police have more important public duties to do.
Abdullah had himself repeatedly called on government leaders to be prepared to hear the views of the people, but it would appear that this message has not been sufficiently communicated to or understood by the police.
Both Suhakam and the Police Royal Commission of Inquiry should also speak up to deplore the high-handed, undemocratic and insensitive police action at the launch of the DAP “Return the Third Vote – Restore Local Government Elections” campaign this morning, by releasing balloons to symbolize the people’s widespread and deep aspirations for the restoration of elected local government after four decades.
When the Kuala Lumpur police regards the release of balloons to call for elected local government as dangerous as bombs in Indonesia, something is very wrong about the democratic mindset and commitment in Malaysia - which can only make Malaysian democracy a laughing-stock in the world.
In the past few years, many quarters including Suhakam has called on the Police to be sensitized about human rights and the Rukunegara objective to maintain a democratic way of life – but this morning’s high-handed police action shows that police sensitization on human rights has been quite a failure. This should be a major agenda of the Police Royal Commission of Inquiry when it submits its final report in August.
Abdullah should give personal attention to this morning’s regrettable and deplorable episode for it sends out the wrong signal – that there is even less space under his premiership as compared to previous Prime Ministers for the peaceful expression of legitimate public aspirations, to the extent that elected representatives like a Member of Parliament and a State Assemblyman could be penalized for dutifully carrying out their elected obligations.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman