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Is Operation Lalang 2 in the works with Johari’s warning of more ISA arrests and that the police had submitted another list of names for ISA arrests?

Media Statement          
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Ipoh, Sunday): Is Operation Lalang 2 in the works with the warning yesterday by the Deputy Internal Security Minister, Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum of more Internal Security Act (ISA) arrests and that the police had submitted another list of names for ISA arrests?

In giving the warning in Jitra yesterday, which was given front-page headlines by the New Sunday Times “WARNING OF MORE ARRESTS – ‘Necessary action’ to be taken under iSA”, Johari revealed that “a list of names had been submitted by the police and it was only a matter of time before several others were detained under the ISA”.

Is the country again in a scenario of “It was never a question of whether Internal Security Act would be used but only a question of when”, quoting Wong Chun Wai’s “On the Beat” in today’s Sunday Star – “A Very Difficult Task To Handle”?

Malaysians must find this state of affairs most shocking and outrageous.

When Johari disclosed that “a list of names had been submitted by the police” for persons to be arrested by the detention-without-trial law, how long is the list? Is it for a score, several scores or even up to over a 100 names as was the case with the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987?

What is the basis for the Police to prepare and submit such a list to the Prime Minister-cum-Internal Security Minister for a new round of ISA arrests?

It would appear that it is politics rather than security which is now the driving force demanding a new round of ISA arrests – as evident from the closed-door meeting of some 1,000 UMNO division leaders and members in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Yesterday’s UMNO meeting was an occasion for the crystallization of UMNO demands and pressures for indiscriminate use of the ISA. The New Sunday Times report “Disappointed over ‘slow response’” on the UMNO meeting yesterday confirmed the gung-ho attitude of certain UMNO rank-and-file quarters on the indiscriminate use of the ISA against critics and dissent in utter disregard of the fundamental principle of the Rule of Law on the inalienable human right against any arbitrary detention without trial.

I call on the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to make a Ministerial statement in Parliament tomorrow on how many names had been submitted by the Police to him for detention under the ISA and to give an assurance that there would not be another Operation Lalang mass detentions under the ISA, which will be even more damaging to Malaysia’s global reputation and international competitiveness than the first Operation Lalang mass detentions exactly 20 years ago!

Abdullah must also give an assurance in his Ministerial statement that he would keep strictly to the letter and spirit of the law and not abuse any powers in invoking the ISA, as for instance in signing a Ministerial detention order under Section 8 of the ISA before there was any police arrest, investigation and recommendation under Section 73 of ISA.

In his 22 years as Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had never by-passed Section 73 of the ISA before a Ministerial detention order was issued. Why had Abdullah acted in so unprecedented, irregular and unlawful a manner?

Abdullah defended his detention order of the five Hindraf leaders and activists, P. Uthayakumar, V. Ganabatirau, M. Manoharan, R. Kenghadharan and T. Vasantha Kumar under Section 8, bypassing Section 73 of the ISA as valid.

He said: “It (the 60-day requirement) is not necessary. Under Section 8(1), if the minister is satisfied that that it is necessary to detain someone from acting in a manner prejudicial to the nation’s security, the minister can issue a detention order directing that the person be detained”.

The Prime Minister has been gravely misinformed and wrongly advised about the powers of the Internal Security Minister under Section 8 of the ISA. Is Abdullah seriously suggesting that he need not depend on police investigations and recommendation under Section 73 of ISA and can even issue a Ministerial detention order under ISA solely depending on political pressures from UMNO quarters?

A full inquiry should be held as to why the Attorney-General or the Internal Security Ministry’s legal advisers had not advised Abdullah about case law that no Ministerial detention order under S. 8 can properly be issued without a necessary investigation by the police under S. 73.

Horror of horrors, the country is now being told that the Minister has another list of names for him to sign detention orders under ISA. Are these all going to be straightaway Section 8 Ministerial detention orders without any prior police detention and investigation of up to 60 days under Section 73 – creating a “revolution” in ISA in its application in its 37-year history?

This is why a Ministerial statement by Abdullah in Parliament tomorrow on the ISA, the threat of another Ops Lalang 2 as indicated by Johari and the new-fangled way of its application, is most imperative in the national interest.


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

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