Media Statement (2) by Liew Chin Tong in George Town on Monday, 3rd August 2009:
ISA: Time for MCA and Gerakan to quit BN
“As long as Barisan Nasional is leading the government, the ISA will not be abolished,” declared Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Given that both MCA and Gerakan have publicly expressed their opposition to ISA, it is high time for the two component parties to quit BN.
The brutal, violent and draconian crackdown on yesterday’s peaceful gathering against the Internal Security Act (ISA) is a sad indictment of the state of affairs in Malaysia.
Together with tens of thousands of Malaysians, many fellow MPs and I had to run for cover from tear gas and chemical-laced water cannons when the march could have ended peacefully, painlessly and rather speedily if the police had aided and not disrupted it.
Instead, nearly 600 Malaysians were arrested and many more hurt, injured and traumatised.
The police had no respect for the basic human right to peaceful assembly. Even senior parliamentary leaders such as Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Dato Seri Hadi Awang had to literally run for their lives.
But it is nonetheless an iconic event that will define Malaysian politics in time to come in the likes of the reformasi demonstrations in 1998, the walk demanding an investigation into the Lingam tape in September 2007, and the Bersih and Hindraf rallies in November 2007.
It is in this regard that, for the sake of Malaysia, I hereby urge MCA and Gerakan to take a principled stance against the ISA.
On Friday, Gerakan Youth Chief Lim Si Pin led a comical act of presenting a memorandum against the ISA to the Palace a day ahead of the mass gathering.
Lim reportedly said that Gerakan Youth was “in solidarity with GMI’s cause, because feedback received from the public is against the ISA.”
MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the party would propose a new act to replace the ISA.
Gerakan President Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, in his usual wishy-washy style urged marchers not to resort to the streets but use legislative channels.
In view of statements by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Minister Nazri, and Defence Minister Dato Seri Zahid Hamidi that the ISA would not be repealed but merely tweaked, if Gerakan and MCA are in sync with public sentiment which is against the ISA, then it is high time for the two parties to quit BN.
* Liew Chin Tong, DAP International Secretary & MP for Bukit Bendera