The continued detention of Lim Vit Chee will be a daily symbol of the abuse of power by Barisan Nasional government against Cheras bolt protestors

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung , Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Seremban Ceramah to welcome the entry into DAP of 27 Chinese educationists and civil right activists held at Chinese Recreation Club, Seremban on Saturday, 15th September 1990 at 5 p.m.

The continued detention of Lim Vit Chee will be a daily symbol of the abuse of power by Barisan Nasional government against Cheras bolt protestors

I have asked the DAP MP for Sungai Besi, Sdr. Tan Kok Wee, who had just been released after seven days of detention under the Internal Security Act for his role in the Cheras tolls protest, to come along to tonight’s ceramah to highlight three points:

Firstly, that joining the DAP involves a political commitment and preparedness to pay a heavy price for one’s political beliefs. Joining the DAP is not like joining the MCA or Gerakan where there are plenty of opportunities for self-advancement, money-making and honours-hoarding. Those who join the DAP must be prepared to lose even their personal liberties, just like Tan Kok Wai recently.

In fact, four of the 27, namely Lim Fong Seng, Lee Ban Cheng, Dr. Kua Kia Soong and Ng Wei Siong have collectively been detained for 24 years under the Internal Security Act for their beliefs.

If the 27 are ‘opportunists’ as alleged by MCA and Gerakan leaders like Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, then they had joined the wrong party, and should have joined MCA and Gerakan instead. For the political parties headed by Liong Sik and Keng Yaik are the real party of ‘oppportunists’ in Malaysia.

The DAP cannot promise the 27 any licences, toll concessions or other money-making opportunities. All we might promise them is an opportunity for them to be detained under the Internal Security Act again.

Call on the people to take a strong against the Internal Security Act

Secondly, the need for the people to take a strong stand to oppose and condemn the increasingly undemocratic rule in the country, to the extent that the Internal Security Act, passed in Parliament in 1960 to deal with armed and militant communists, could now be extended to be used against MPs and Malaysians who disagree with the Government in protesting against the Cheras toll.

If the Internal Security Act could be used against protestors of the Cheras toll, then it would not be long before the ISA would be the favourite weapon for the Barisan Nasional government to lock up anyone they dislike for there is no need for the government and the police to prove their charges in a court of law.

The police has become the judge, jury and prosecutor – all rolled in one, and Malaysians will be one big step closer to a Police State.

The greatest political opportunity and challenge before the people in the next general elections is to save democracy and restore human rights by putting an effective check on the gross abuses of power by the Barisan Nasional through forging the emergence of a two-coalition system – whether by denying the Barisan Nasional its traditional two-thirds majority or by kicking out the Barisan Nasional government altogether and the replacement of Dr. Mahathir Mohamed by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as the Prime Minister in Malaysia.

Thirdly, for the DAP and the people of Malaysia to reaffirm their support of the struggle of the people of Cheras for the removal of the unfair and oppressive Cheras tolls.

MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, said the immediate suspension of the Cheras tolls collection is not a victory of the DAP. The DAP had never claimed any victory, although among the political parties, the DAP was the only one which called for the immediate suspension of the tolls collections – to be followed by its total abolition.

It was definitely not the victory of the MCA whose Ministers approved the toll rates in Cabinet without considering whether hey are high or low, never handed to the Prime Minister the memorandum of protests by the Cheras residents about the tolls and who never suggested the immediate suspension of the tolls collection.

If the immediate suspension of the Cheras tolls collection is anyone’s ‘victory’, then it is the victory of the ‘ one per cent’ in Cheras who came out in a spontaneous 10,000-strong demonstration in Cheras a week ago. Unfortunately, it is this ‘one per cent’ of the brave Cheras residents – comprising all age groups and races – who were denounced by Liong Sik irresponsible and law-breakers!

If this ‘one per cent’ of the Cheras residents whom Liong Sik condemned as ‘bad hats’ had depended on Liong Sik or MCA to resolve the Cheras tolls problem, the 200,000 Cheras residents would still be paying Cheras tolls tonight!

However, the DAP regrets that up to now, one of the five persons detained under the Internal Security Act for the Cheras tolls issue is still under detention, namely Lim Yit Chee aide to the DAP MP for Bukit Bintang, Sdr. Lee Lam Thye.

The Police had no cause, excuse or justification to detain anyone for the Cheras toll. This is best illustrated by two persons detained under the ISA last Saturday, but who were released ten hours later, without ever being questioned by the police for a single second.

Clearly, the police does not take the ISA seriously, but as a convenient law to arrest they like without trial – or how could they explain detaining two persons under the ISA, and then releasing them 10 hours later without questioning them for a single second?

Although, Tan Kok Wei and Wong Ah Chee, the chairman of the Cheras Tolls Exemption Committee, had been released today, the DAP is not satisfied, for Lim Yit Chee is still in detention.

So long as Lin Yit Chee continues to be in detention, he will be a daily symbol and reminder to all Malaysians of the gross abuse of power by the Barisan Nasional government against the Cheras toll protestors, and how an unjust government could so irresponsibly impose unjust policies on the people without proper study or consultation.