If Kerk Choo Ting wants to claim credit for the release of Operation Lalang detainees, then he must bear responsibility for their detention in the first place

By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 18th May 1990:

If Kerk Choo Ting wants to claim credit for the release of Operation Lalang detainees, then he must bear responsibility for their detention in the first place

To show that he is a champion of human rights, the Gerakan Deputy President and candidate for the Taiping parliamentary constituency, Kerk Choo Ting, is openly claiming credit for the release of Operation Lalang detainees, including the release of my son, Lim Guan Eng and myself.

I want to tell Kerk Choo Ting that if he wants to claim credit for the release of Operation Lalang detainees, then he must bear responsibility for their detention in the first place!

Kerk Choo Ting’s speech at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall forum on ‘Pressure Groups and Party Politics’ is very clear and nobody can misinterpret or distort what he said.

Kerk said that “when pressure groups put pressure on the ruling government, if the ‘pressure’ is applied right, the authorities would be thankful; if the ‘pressure’ is painful, the authorities will have ‘Operation Lalang’; if the ‘pressure’ is about to bring down the authorities, they will bring out guns and cannons.” (China Press, 6/5/90)

Kerk is the Deputy President of one of the component parties of the Barisan Nasional government, and is himself seeking election as MP for Taiping in the next general elections. His reference to ‘Operation Lalang’ where 106 opposition leaders and government critics were detained without trial in October/November 1987 is clear indication that he is talking with specific reference to Malaysia.

What Kerk said is that Malaysians should not be surprised if the government resorted to Operation Lalang operations, whether in the past or in the future, if the ‘pressure’ of the people (and not just pressure groups) on the authorities is too ‘painful’. There was no condemnation of Operation Lalang by Kerk; what is worse, he was warning that the Barisan Nasional government of which he is part may have to resort to future Operation Lalang operations if these ‘pressure’ are painful!

Can Kerk list out the ‘pressures’ which were ‘painful’ which justified the Operation Lalang of the Barisan Nasional Government in 1987?

Is the Government entitled to have another Operation Lalang if opposition to 1990 Education Bill to abolish Boards of Managements of fully-aided Chinese primary schools is ‘painful’ to Barisan Nasional?_

Is Kerk suggesting that the nation-wide campaign in 1987 to oppose the appointment of teachers unversed in Mandarin to senior positions in Chinese primary schools is one of those ‘painful’ pressures to justify the Operation Lalang?

If this is the case, then is Kerk implying that if the present opposition to the 1990 Education Bill, and in particular to the proposal to abolish the Boards of Managements of 432 Chinese primary schools on government land, is ‘painful’ to the Barisan Nasional, then it could justify another Operation Lalang?

Did Kerk and the Gerakan ever protest to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, in 1987 against Operation Lalang, and informed Dr. Mahathir that in any event, he had arrested the wrong persons, and questioned why UMNO leaders responsible for considerable tensions in the country, like Datuk Najib Tun Razak, had not been detained??

Can Kerk state whether the Gerakan President and Minister for primary Industries, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, had ever raised the Operation Lalang issue in the Cabinet?

Kerk must not forget that Operation Lalang is not the action of the Home Minister alone, but represented the collective action of the Barisan Nasional Cabinet, of which Gerakan is a component member.

Kerk is a psuedo-democrat

What I find completely unacceptable and highly deplorable is that if the ‘pressure’ of the pressure groups threatens to topple the government, then the authorities will bring out guns and cannons.

I want to ask Kerk Choo Ting what type of a democrat he claims to be, when the powers-that-be is justified to retain its power position by bloodshed through the use of guns and cannons? Kerk is only a pseudo-democrat.

By this logic, Kerk would fully support bloodshed and military intervention if the Barisan Nasional is voted out of office by the people in the next general elections. Already, a few UMNO Baru leaders are resorting to the most irresponsible tactics of threatening the people with chaos and bloodshed if there is a change of government, but I never expect Kerk Choo Ting to join their ranks!

Nobody has distorted Kerk Choo Ting’s speech to the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall forum as what he said is clear enough. It is Kerk himself who is now trying to distort and misinterpret his own statement about ‘Operation Lalang’ and ‘guns and cannons’!

Kerk Choo Ting has also studiously avoided my questions about Gerakan’s role in the relentless violation of human rights by the Barisan Nasional Government in Malaysia during the eight years he ‘attacked into the Barisan Nasional to rectify the Barisan Nasional’!

If Kerk and Gerakan are such great champions of human rights, why did they support the amendments to the Official Secrets Act, the Internal Security Act, the Police Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act between 1986 to 1989 which made these laws even more draconian and repressive than their parent Acts!

Why did Gerakan and Kerk became a party in the Barisan Nasional action sacking Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges, Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman and Datuk George Seah?

Why did Gerakan allow the independence of the Election Commission to conduct free, fair, clean and honest elections to be compromised as in the snap voters’ registration exercise in March and the change in election laws and regulations, particularly on the new vote-counting procedures?

Ten days ago, when in Taiping, I asked Kerk to give a full reckoning of his eight-year record of ‘Attack into the Barisan Nasional to rectify the Barisan Nasional’. Kerk said he would do so, but I am still waiting for such a reckoning.