Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the first anniversary dinner to mark Lim Guan Eng and his first release from ISA detention from Kamunting Detention Centre organised by Penang DAPSY at Maple Leaf Restaurant in Penang on Thursday, 19th April 1990 at 8 pm
Call on Malaysians to give full support to Tunku in the second Merdeka struggle to free Malaysians from undemocratic rule
I thank the Penang DAPSY for this occasion to mark the first anniversary of Guan Eng and my release from Kamunting Detention Centre under Operation Lalang.
Altogether 106 Malaysians were detained under the Operation Lalang in October and November 1987, and 40 were served with formal detention orders under the Internal Security Act signed by the Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.
Seven of the Operation Lalang detainees are DAP MPs and leaders, including Sdr. Karpal Singh (MP for Jelutong), Sdr. P. Patto (MP for Ipoh), Sdr. Lau Dak Kee (MP for Pasir Pinji), Sdr. Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (MP for Kepong) and Sdr. V. David (MP for Puchong).
The only different between Guan Eng and I, and all the other Operation Lalang detainees was that for some reason known only to Dr. Mahathir, both of us were given the special treatment of the Operation Lalang detainees to leave the Kamunting Detention Centre.
Operation Lalang should be a warning to all Malaysians as to how the concentration of powers in the hands of the Executive and in particular, the prime minister, has become a dangerous threat to democracy in Malaysia where 106 Opposition leaders and critics of government could be locked up in one fell swoop.
The Operation Lalang detainees committed no offences or crimes to justify our detention. In fact, those who were threats to national stability and security, including a few UMNO Ministers, were let off scotfree although they were the ones the Home Ministry should have acted against.
The Barisan Nasional Government wants Malaysians to forget about the Operation Lalang mass arrests, so that in future, the Government could claim that as Malaysians had no obkections to Operation Lalang, it has the mandate to invoke the Internal Security Act for mass arrests of opposition leaders and government critics whenever it suits its purpose.
Operation Lalang mass arrests is one important reason why Barisan Nasional Government should be denied two-thirds parliamentary majority in next elections
Malaysians must never forget Operation Lalang, as this the only way to prevent a repetition of such gross violation of human rights. Even more important, the people must take it very clear that with the Operation Lalang mass arrests, the Barisan Nasional government had abused its trust to protect and promote democracy and human rights in Malaysia.
In the next general elections, which could be held in the next 100 days, all Malaysians must unite as one to curb the untrammeled powers of the Barisan Nasional Government and reject that the Operation Lalang mass arrests is an acceptable mode of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia.
Malaysians must tell Dr. Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional Government that because of the operation lalng mass arrests, they have forfeited the right to two-thirds majority in Parliament, and the people want to impose greater checks on the powers of the Barisan Nasional government before it turns into a full dictatorship.
In fact past decade of Mahathir rule, Malaysians have lost a lot of their democratic freedoms and human rights. There was not only the Operation Lalang mass arrests, but also the assault on the Judiciary with the sacking of the Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court Judges, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah; the growing subservience of Parliament to the Prime Minister; the increasing curtailment on the freedom of speech, assembly and association through repressive laws like the Official Secrets Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Police Act, and government administrative measures like the ban on public rallies; and lately, the attack on the independence of the Election Commission.
In 1957, under the leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia achieved ‘Merdeka’ from colonial rule. But in the past decade, Malaysians have become more and more unfree as the government becomes more and more undemocratic.
The time has come for Malaysians to launch a second ‘Merdeka’ movement to free Malaysians from undemocratic rule.
This has in fact been the struggle of Tunku Abdul Rahman in the past decade. Tunku Abdul Rahman is Bapa Malaysia twice over, first to achieve ‘Merdeka’ to free Malaysia from colonial rule, and now to achieve a second ‘Merdeka’ to free Malaysians from undemocratic rule!
I call on all Malaysians to give full support to Tunku Abdul Rahman in this second but equally great crusade for ‘Merdeka’ for Malaysia, so that democracy, human rights, socio-economic justice and genuine national unity can flower and bear fruit in the country.
Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, reently said that Tunku had talked too much, and described Tunku’s fight to restore democracy and human rights in Malaysia as ‘quixotic’.
Dr. Lim Chong Eu wanted to insult Tunku, but he has only succeeded in dishonouring himself, as he has highlighted the fact that at 87 years, Tunku is still the Conscience of the Malaysian nation, while 15 years younger at 72, Dr. Lim Chong Eu has buried his own conscience and has closed his heart to the aspirations of Malaysians to freedom, justice, equality and human dignity.
Call on Dr. Mahathir to make a policy statement on whether the government is revoking the four Proclamations of Emergency in Malaysia
During the debate on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill in Parliament last month, I called on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir to revoke the four Proclamations of Emergency currently still in force in Malaysia, as the circumstances under which they were proclaimed had long ceased to exist.
The first of the four Proclamations of Emergency was made during the Indonesian Confrontation in 1964, the second to deal with the Sarawak Constitutional crisis in 1966, the third to deal with the May 13 riots in 1969 and the fourth because of the PAS Kelantan Government crisis in 1977.
What reason could there be to perpetuate a Proclamation of Emergency, with its brood of emergency ordinances and regulations, meant to deal with Indonesia Confrontation which had ended and become history for a century?
A generation has been born, grown up and assumed their responsibilities in societies who never experiences the Indonesian Confrontation, and yet they have to live under and Emergency Proclamation which has ceased to have meaning for a quarter of a century?
All the four Proclamations of Emergency were prompted by conditions which are all distant historical memories going back to over a generation.
In his reply to me in Parliament when winding up the debate on the Constitution Amendment Bill, Dr. Mahathir said that the government was reviewing the four Proclamations of Emergency.
However, since the Prime Minister’s statement in parliament, there has been no single word on the matter.
I take this opportunity to call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to make a policy statement on the four Proclamations of Emergency, as to whether the government is going to revoke them.