Forward    Feedback    


Abdullah should demonstrate his democratic credentials by dismantling  the mindset, apparatus and  institutions of a police state which had been put in place by Mahathir in his 22 years as Prime Minister starting with the repeal of repressive laws like ISA, PPPA and OSA and restoring independence of judiciary

by Lim Kit Siang  


(Ipoh, Friday) :  Today’s date, October 27, is  a black day in the nation’s history.  On this day nineteen years ago in 1987, the infamous Operation Lalang was launched resulting in the mass arrests of  119 people  from a broad spectrum of Malaysian society, including the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Members of Parliament, political activists, educationists, trade unionists,  church workers, environmentalists, social activists, academicians and intellectuals.


The printing permits of three newspapers were suspended and all forms of political gatherings and meetings banned.


Of the 119 people  arrested under the repressive and obnoxious Internal Security Act (ISA), 49 were served with formal two-year detention orders at the end of December 1987 and sent to Kamunting Detention Centre.


I was one of the seven DAP Members of Parliament formally detained under Operation Lalang, and together with me were Karpal Singh, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, Lim Guan Eng, Lau Dak Kee and the late P. Patto and V. David.


This was my second detention under the ISA, the first time immediately after my first election as MP in the 1969 general election, when I was detained for 17 months in the Muar Detention Centre.  I lost another 18 months of personal freedom during my detention under Operation Lalang. Guan Eng and I were the last two of the Operation Lalang detainees to be released in April 1989.


If I am asked whether I could be detained without trial  for a third time under the ISA not for any crime but for political dissent as in my first two ISA  detentions, I cannot state with absolute certainty and confidence that this is now  an impossible and unthinkable proposition with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Prime Minister.


This is why I agree with former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad about Malaysia being a “police state”.


Mahathir had told Abdullah in their  two-hour meeting last Sunday that Malaysia had become a police state as “every time anybody invites me to give a talk, they would be called up by the police and warned, called up by the police and told to withdraw the invitation”.


In his first rebuttal after his Hari Raya open house in Kepala Batas three days later, Abdullah denied that Malaysia is a police state. He said:


“I would also like to add a little about police state. That is not right. Malaysia is not a police state.


“I have no intention of making it a police state. We have sovereign laws and are governed by a democratic government.”


Abdullah should not have denied the undeniable. He should have agreed with Mahathir  about Malaysia as a police state but reminded the former Prime Minister that this was his legacy after his 22-year premiership.


In fact, Abdullah should have also reminded Mahathir of the criticisms and opposition of two former Prime Ministers to Mahathir in the late 80s, Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman and the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, for  turning Malaysia into a police state.


I agree with Mahathir however that it is intolerable and completely unacceptable for a country that professes democracy to allow  the culture, mentality and institutions of a police state to continue, and the test as to whether Malaysia is no more a police state is whether  leaders of the political opposition, including  elected Opposition MPs, can state with absolute certainty and confidence that they would not and could not  be detained without trial under draconian legislation not for any crime but for their  political dissent.


In other words, I must be able to say and believe with absolute confidence and certainty that I could not be detained for a third time under the ISA and incarcerated without trial, for no crime whatsoever but  for legitimate  criticisms which the powers-that-be cannot stomach.


Abdullah should demonstrate his democratic credentials by dismantling   the mindset, apparatus and  institutions of a police state which had been put in place by Mahathir in his 22 years as Prime Minister starting with a two-pronged action:


  • the repeal of repressive laws like the Internal Security Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Police Act, the Sedition Act; and


  • restore the independence, impartiality and integrity  of the judiciary by re-opening a full inquiry into the 1988 judicial crisis through a Royal Commission of Inquiry.


This is what Abdullah should do if he is serious and sincere when  he said that he does not want a police state in Malaysia – by ensuring that no Prime Minister, including himself, could resort to the whole arsenal of repressive laws and institutions to ensure and perpetuate his political survival.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: