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Call on Abdullah to revoke the “green light” for the mass arrests and prosecutions and to pull back from the brink of the precipice of a major crackdown on human rights and democracy which will push back democratization and liberalization for decades

Media Statement        
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Monday): I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to revoke the “green light” for the mass arrests and prosecutions and to pull back from the brink of the precipice of a major crackdown on human rights and democracy which will push back democratization and liberalization for decades.

Many are asking whether the country is on the eve of a second Operation Lalang when there was a major crackdown on human rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy in 1987 with mass arrests under the Internal Security Act and the closure of four newspapers which was followed by the “mother” of all judicial crisis in 1988 causing irretrievable damage to the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

Abdullah made the promise to protect and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law when he became Prime Minister just four years ago and I call on him to step on the brakes to prevent the country from careening down the slope of a major assault on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and the first Suhakam Chairman, Tun Musa Hitam, has provided a solution to prevent the country plunging down the slope of a new “dark age” for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

In an interview with Sunday Times, Musa has made an eloquent call for Malaysia to be one of the first developing nations to show respect for the human right of freedom of expression by allowing peaceful assemblies and demonstrations.

Asked “Is Malaysia ready for peaceful assemblies”, Musa gave the refreshing and confident reply: “Yes, Come on, we have been independent for 50 years.”

Musa is right when he made two important points, which should be serious thought by the Prime Minister and Cabinet on Wednesday.

Firstly, the fallacy of equating “demonstrations” with “violence”.

Musa rightly pointed out that Malaysia should move forward and away from the mentality equating “demonstrations” with “violence”, and he made proposals for peaceful demonstrations to be allowed by the government, with the responsibility for ensuring that the demonstrations are peaceful also being placed on the organizers.

Secondly, Musa’s rebuttal of the repeated TV claim and dismissal of demonstrations as “Ini bukan budaya kita” (This is not our culture).

Musa said: “I’m sorry for ridiculing this, but where is there a budaya (culture of violence) anywhere in the country? Do you think violence is a French budaya? Indonesians? Filipinos?”

Abdullah and the Cabinet should also heed Musa’s sobre views and appraisal of the national situation, particularly his frank views that the problems faced by the Malaysian Indians are “genuine”, which are part of national problems, and that the Indians are feeling “desperate” as they are not satisfied with the representation by the MIC which are considered ineffective.

The following observations by Musa particularly bears heart-searching by the Cabinet on Wednesday:

“Of course, everybody has complaints. The Malays have complaints. But the Tamils are such a minority and they don’t form an important force, so people don’t seem to pay too much attention to them. But they need this attention.

“This is a question of attitude. I am so happy that the prime minister actually directed the MIC to look into the matter. But they should not have been told by the prime minister. It should have been an on-going thing. Maybe they need to have a good fresh look at themselves.”

What is sad and tragic is that the MIC has led the national campaign to deny what the majority of the two million Malaysian Indians feel strongly, that they had suffered long-standing marginalization whether politically, economically, educationally, socially, culturally and religiously resulting in their becoming the new underclass in the country.

Samy Vellu and the other MIC leaders are very outspoken in denying the allegations of Hindraf leaders about “ethnic cleansing” and genocide of Indians in Malaysia. Why are they not prepared to be equally outspoken by admitting and declaring in the Cabinet, Parliament and government the fact of long-standing marginalization of Malaysian Indians which warrant a new government policy for a New Deal to end the Marginalisation of the Malaysian Indians and all marginalized groups in Malaysia?


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

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