Speech by Parliamentary opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the launching of the book ‘Escape from Tyranny in Malaysia’ by Zulkifri Ahman at the Plaza Inn, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 29th September 1990 at 11 am.
Call on Nelson Mandela to speak up for the abolition of the Internal Security Act when he visits Malaysia next month.
I am honored to be invited by my friend, Zulkifli Ahman, to launch his book ‘Escape from Tyranny in Malaysia’ in English.
Zulkifli is a witness and victim of the tyranny and oppression of the Malaysian political system, and his book is an important addition to the literature of tyranny and opposition in Malaysia.
Even Zulkifli’s book had to escape from tyranny in Malaysia before it could reach the public. When the Bahasa Malaysia version was first published in July, the police in Sabah confiscated a consignment of the book and frightened book agents from circulating and selling it. This was during the Sabah state general elections.
Although I did not agree with all the political views expressed by Zulkifli in the book, I had no hesitation in immediately championing his rights to publish his book, ‘Escape from Tyranny in Malaysia’, and in denouncing the Police for seizing a consignment of his book.
At that time, the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid made a public call to the people to surrender any copies of the book, Lari Dari Kezaliman, explaining that his Ministry was studying the book to verify whether its contents contained sensitive racial issues.
I had a copy of the book, which Zulkifli had given to me. I produced a copy of the book at a press conference in Sabah and announced that I was not going to surrender it to the police. I challenged Megat’s right and powers to make such a call, asking under what law Megat Junid was demanding the surrender of the book. The authorities had no right to ask the people to surrender copies of the book unless it bans the book first.
Finally, this book had ‘escaped from tyranny’ and we are here for the launching of its English version.
Anwar Ibrahim has escaped and become part of the system of tyranny in Malaysia.
Like me, Zulkifli had been detained twice under the internal Security Act, the second time in the company of the present Education Minister Anwar Ibrahim, when they shared the same police lock-up at the Kuala Lumpur High Street Police Station and the Kamunting detention center in connection with university student demonstrations over the Baling ‘hunger’ issue in 1975.
Fifteen years later, however, Zulkifli is still trying to escape from the ‘tyranny’ of the system, while his former comrade – at –arms, Anwar Ibrahim, had not only fully escaped, but been co-opted and become part of the system of tyranny.
The recent use of the Internal Security Act to arrest five persons for protesting against the unjust and oppressive Cheras tools issue is an excellent example as to how tyrannical and draconian the Internal security Act has become.
When the ISA was first presented in Parliament, the nation is given a solemn pledge that it would be used against militant communists seeking to overthrow the elected government of Malaysia by violence and armed struggle.
Now it is being used to deal with protestors and those who dissent, as happened during the iniquitous mass arrests of over 100 Opposition Leaders, government critics, educationists, religious workers and social activists under Operation Lalang in October 1987.
In less than a month, it would be time to mark the third anniversary of the black day for democracy and human rights, which falls on October 26, the date when Operation Lalang was launched.
The general elections are also likely to be held next month. There is no better way for Malaysians to mark the third anniversary of Operation Lalang than by registering their great protest against the gross violation of human rights and erosion of democratic freedoms in Malaysia by voting in unison against a government which could use the ISA as an instrument of tyranny against ideas, protest, exercise of democratic rights and the expression of the legitimate aspirations of the people.
In the next general elections, the government would be using all sorts of tricks to get public support and votes. I understand that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has arranged for the South African Freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, to visit Malaysia on Oct.20 and 21, probably in the midst of a lightning election campaign to help the Barisan Nasional win votes.
Nelson Mandela should be the guest-of-honor at a human rights rally to mark the third anniversary of Operation Lalang to demand the end of detention without trial laws.
Malaysia would be doing dishonor to Nelson Mandela if he is used by the Barisan Nasional government as a vote – getter in the general elections campaign.
Malaysians of all races would want to show Nelson Mandela that he has their full support in the flight against the apartheid policies of the South African Government.
However, nelson Mandela is not just the symbol of the struggle for freedom for black South Africans, but he has become the symbol for the struggle for human rights and democratic freedoms for the people all over the world.
As the foremost freedom fighter in the world who had been the longest political prisoner, Nelson Mandela’s visit to Malaysia will be incomplete if he does not speak up for the abolition of the Internal Security Act and the campaign for the end of political detention without trial.
I propose that in view of Nelson Mandela’s visit on Oct.20 and 21, the third anniversary of Operation Lalang, the black day for human rights and democracy for Malaysia, be brought forward, and Nelson Mandela be invited to be guest-of-honour to a human rights rally to demand the end of the Internal Security Act and all detention without trial laws in the world.
I will to the Prime minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, requesting that he communicate with Nelson Mandela and arrange for him to attend this human rights rally against detention without trial laws during his visit to Malaysia next month.
I will also seek an assurance from the Prime Minister that he would not degrade the visit of Nelson Mandela by turning it into a vote-getting gimmick for the Barisan Nasional in the general elections, and this can best be done by ensuring that Nelson Mandela’s visit does not take place during the general elections.