by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 23rd May 1991:
Is Mahathir suggesting that if Jeffrey Kitingan had not been detained under the ISA, there would be disturbances in Sabah?
The reasons given by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, in Kuching yesterday that the Internal Security Act would not be abolished is most flimsy and unconvincing.
Dr. Mahathir said that one reason why, unlike other countries, there is peace and no disturbances in Malaysia is because of the existence of the ISA. He said that there are people in Malaysia who are afraid to create disturbances because there is the ISA.
This statement by Dr. Mahathir, in the wake of the detention of Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, Sabah Foundation director, is most unfortunately and unfair.
Is Dr. Mahathir suggesting that if Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan had not been detained under the ISA, there would be disturbances in Sabah? There were disturbances in Sabah in 1986, with bombings, arsons and killings. But the authorities did not find it necessary to invoke the ISA then!
It is also very wrong for anyone to jump to the conclusion that the existences of the ISA is the recipe for peace and harmony in any country.
The Prime Minister should be aware that India has its ISA-type of laws, allowing for detention without trial, but this has not prevented disturbances or even the assassination of a Prime Minister-designate. Other countries also come to mind.
Credit for the comparatively more peaceful political atmosphere in Malaysia must go to the people, rather than to the arsenal of repressive laws in the country.
It is very significant that although the Internal Security Act had been invoked in the past year to detain seven persons, the latest being Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, for the alleged plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia, the Government has not been able to produce one lots of evidence Sabahans and Malaysians that there is indeed such a plot.
What is even more troubling is that the alleged plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia seems to wax and wane depending on the political relationship between the Barisan Nasional Federal Government and the PBS Sabah State Government.
If PBS and Sabah State Government not afraid of a public trial over the alleged secession plot, why should Federal Government fight shy of it if it has evidence of the plot?
If this is the case, then the alleged plot for Sabah’s secession is just a political ‘football’ and not a serious security issue, and the Police should never allow themselves to be involved in such political slanging match.
For this reason, the Police should be prepared to take up the challenge of the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, that the federal authorities should release the six Sabahans detained under the ISA or bring them to court if there is evidence of their involvement in the secession plot.
If the PBS and the Sabah State Government are not afraid of a public trial over the alleged secession plot, why should the Federal Government fight ahy of it has ample evidence to justify the series of ISA detentions and ‘avem more arrests’ as indicated by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar, recently?
Call on Barisan Nasional and PBS to sink their political differences to oncure that the people of Sabah are not left out of the mainstream of national development.
Whatever the political differences between the Barisan Nasional and the PBS, in the higher interest of nation building, the Federal Government and the Sabah State Government must make serious and earnest efforts to check the serious obstacle to national unity and national disintegration because of the continued unfair treatment of Sabah especially over development allocations.
Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, said at a harvest festival celebration in Kampung Temburung, Kiulu early this week that one reason why the State Government had asked for higher oil royalty was because the federal leaders had been “unfair towards Sabah, especially in terms of allocation.”
The Barisan Nasional and the PBS should sink their political differences to ensure that the people of
Sabah are not left out of the mainstream of national development.
The Federal Government cannot abdicate from its responsibility to the people of Sabah in terms of fair development allocations just because the Sabah Government is not in the Barisan Nasional.
The Federal Government and the Sabah State Government should set up a joint committee to seek ways to mend their fences to ensure that the people of Sabah are not left behind in the mainstream of national development, just because of political differences between the Barisan Nasional and the PBS.