Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the public launching of the new DAP book ‘Human Rights in Malaysia’ in Petaling Jaya on Human Right Day, 10th December 1985 at the Transport Workers’ Union Hall at 8p.m.
DAP calls for establishment of a Constitutional Commission to review the Malaysian Constitution and the fundamental liberties in the country to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Malaysian nation and Constitution
The public launching of the new DAP book , ‘Human Rights in Malaysia’ , in Petaling Jaya tonight is an attempt by the DAP to arouse the consciousness of Malaysian about their constitutional rights and fundamental liberties as Malaysia citizens.
The right and freedoms enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution would be a mere scrap of meaningless paper if Malaysian themselves do not cherish them enough to take a stand to defend and advance them, especially when these rights and fundamental freedoms are under threat.
Although Part II of the Malaysian Constitution enshrines the nine fundamental rights in Malaysia, they are subject to daily assault and erosion.
Yesterday, the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression was violated when the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, announced the ban of all publication, sale and possession of books on last month’s Baling’s incident. He said the government considered the incident a sensitive issue and did not want the public to be influenced or confused by the allegations of the Opposition parties who wanted to make political capital out of it.
But what about writing by non-political party scholar or concerned Malaysians who want to write about Baling Tragedy, to find out what are the socio-economic, political and religious background and the lessons that could learnt to prevent recurrence of future Baling Incidents?
So far, there is only one public version of the Baling Tragedy, i.e. the government version. Like it or not, the government must realise that to certain quarters, the government version is just the UMNO version.
This is why the very next day after the Baling Tragedy, I had called for an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Baling Tragedy, comprising non-partisan Malaysian of undisputed eminence and integrity whose report would command the undoubted confidence of Malaysians of all races, religious persuasion and political affiliation.
If the Government’s version of Baling Tragedy is the true version, then such an independent Commission of Inquiry would endorse the government account and the government should have no hesitation to having such a Commission of Inquiry.
Banning of books or publication of Baling Tragedy cannot stop the spread by word of mouth or even by underground press of various conflicting versions about the Baling Tragedy. As more and more versions conflicting with the government version make their rounds in the country, the government’s credibility gap will widen, which will undermine future government efforts to secure public confidence of the people.
The Home Affair Ministry should learn from the experience of other countries that in the modern times of communications, the suppression of freedom of expression and information would only spawn a flourishing underground press as an alternative mass media for the people, whether in the form of flying letters or other products.
Suppression of Ahmad Nordin BMF Final Report would be another fundamental wrong
In the last 28 years of Malaysian nationhood, the fundamental rights enshrined in Part II of the Malaysian Constitution had been violated so often that they have become the ‘fundamental wrongs’ in Malaysia.
Any suppression of the Ahmad Nordin BMF Final Report would be another fundamental wrong to Malaysians, for this would violate their basic right to know and to hold the government to account for their stewardship of public funds and public trust.
Both the Malaysian nation and the Malaysian Constitution would be 30 years old in 20 months’ time. The DAP proposes the establishment of a Constitution to review the Malaysian Constitution and the state of human rights of Malaysian as part of the nation’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the nation and the Constitution.
The Constitution Commission should comprise eminent and learned Malaysians who command respect from Malaysians from all walks of life, and who should be given 18 months to complete their Report and recommendations so that their report would constitute the major focus of national discussion and debate on the occasion of the 30th Malaysian National Day in August 1987.