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High-handed police action at Hindraf rally – Indian Diaspora reacts

2008 Budget Debate Speech           
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Dewan Rakyat, Wednesday): Monday’s press carried reports and photographs of a foreign woman tourist in the Kuala Lumpur centre on Sunday who was the victim of indiscriminate police tear gas attacks which aggravated her asthmatic condition.

In the era of globalization, the earth has become a global village and it is impossible for Malaysia to disregard international reactions to local events if we are to enhance our international competitiveness whether in attracting tourists or foreign investors.

Peaceful demonstrations do not scare tourists. It is high-handed police actions and the mishandling of peaceful demonstrations as happened with regard to the Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday which drives away tourists and investors.

For example, in countries with a very flourishing tourist industry like the United Kingdom, Australia and United States, peaceful demonstrations are quite common and do not have any effect in scaring away tourists.

During question time this morning, I had asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Ministry, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Chik whether there had been adverse reactions from the Indian Diaspora or whether the Ministry is expecting any from the police mishandling of the Hindraf rally.

Although Ahmad Shabery replied in the negative, the truth is otherwise. The Indian media have reported adverse reactions to the government handling of the Hindraf demonstration – media like Hindu India, Hindustan Times India, Times of India, CNN-IBN India, Zee News India, News Today India, and The Tribune India.

Malaysiakini has the following report:

“Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been urged to take immediate action concerning the state of the Indians in Malaysia.

“The premier’s intervention was sought by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and other politicians in the state following the mass rally held on Nov 25 in Kuala Lumpur.

According to the Hindu newspaper, Karunanidhi wrote to Manmohan on Tuesday asking him to employ the necessary measures regarding the “sufferings and bad treatment” of Tamils in Malaysia.

“Karunanidhi said the people of Tamil Nadu were disturbed over the happenings in Kuala Lumpur.”

If Malaysia is to optimize our potential to attract world tourists to Malaysia, the country and government must be prepared to adopt the best international practices on democracy, human rights, accountability and good governance.

This morning, DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng and I were at the Selayang magistrate’s court where some 50 people were waiting to be charged for an illegal assembly in connection with the Hindraf demonstration.

Yesterday, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz labeled the Hindraf demonstrators as “penyangak” when he said:

“Some 20,000 penyangak (crooks) who participated in the rally would not jeopardise our viewpoint of the entire community.”

The people I met at Selayang Court awaiting to be charged for an illegal assembly in connection with the Hindraf rally on Sunday are mostly respectable and law-abiding Malaysian citizens, business people, technicians, contractors, clerks and even executive and management officers.

How can Nazri call them “penyangak” which according to Kamus Dewan means “pencuri, penjahat”?

Nazri should apologize for his language in condemning the 30,000 decent and respectable people from all over the country to peacefully and collectively express their cry of desperation for justice as Malaysian citizens.


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

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