by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, February 3, 1994:
The Australian Government must take full responsibility if innocent opposition politicians and MPs are detained under the ISA because of the preposterous and unsubstantiated allegation that Australian spies had bribed ‘senior opposition politicians’.
DAP welcomes the announcement by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Mohamed Noor, that the Police had set up a committee to investigate a newspaper report that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) had paid senior opposition politicians in Malaysia tens of thousands of dollars in bribes.
Tan Sri Rahim said the committee was set up a few days ago following a police report lodged by Bukit Aman officials to enable the police to begin investigation.
This is probably the first time in the history of the Malaysian Police Force where it had itself lodged a police report on the basis of a newspaper report to enable it to begin investigation.
I agree with Tan Sri Rahim that the allegation was serious as such acts could be considered treasonous, but I hope that in future, the Police will be able to take the initiative in the case of serious allegations to lodge police report itself to start investigations instead of using the standard excuse that it could not do anything as ‘no police report had been lodged’.
The Police and in fact, Parliament itself, must initiate investigations to find out the truth of the Sydney Sunday Telegraph report for it tarnishes the image and integrity of opposition politicians, Parliament as well as the nation.
This is why DAP has called for the convening of an emergency meeting of Parliament to demand that the Australian Government give full details about the allegation that opposition politicians in Malaysia had been bribed by Australian spies, and also to set up an All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Committee to go to Australia to collect all available information and materials.
Malaysians however who fully agree that the full rigours of the law must be applied against anyone who had betraved the country must feel very disturbed when Tan Sri Rahim said the Police would use the Internal Security Act in this case.
This is because under the ISA, the authorities could detain a person indefinitely without trial and there is no need for any evidence whatsoever.
I ought to know because I had been detained twice under the Internal Security Act. The case of Dr. Jeffrey Pairin Kitingan is another good example.
Without an iota of evidence, Dr. Jeffrey was detained for 31 months under the Internal Security Act for alleged com-policy in a plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia.
After all restrictions on Dr. Jeffrey and three other Sabahans who had also been detained under the ISA had been lifted recently, the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid said that there were no more ‘political detainees’ in Malaysia – inadvertently admitting the true nature of the use of ISA on the Sabahans as well as the political opposition in the past.
The ‘political’ nature of the ISA detention of Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan becomes even more obvious when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, hinted in Kota Kinabalu two days ago that Jeffrey could be more acceptable to the Barisan Nasional than his brother, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
DAP calls on Paul Keating and the Australian Cabinet to make an exception of its ‘long-standing principle’ not to comment on intelligence and declare its stand in view of possible grave human rights violations in Malaysia.
The Australian Government must take full responsibility if innocent opposition politicians and MPs in Malaysia are detained under the Internal Security Act because of the allegation that Australian spies had bribed opposition politicians.
This is an additional and powerful reason why in this case, the Australian Government cannot hide behind its ‘long-standing principle’ in not commenting on reports on the supposed activities of the ASIS.
There is an air of witch-hunt in the country. There have been increasing pressure by certain leaders in the Barisan Nasional, like Gerakan leaders, who are demanding that the Sydney Sunday Telegraph allegation be regarded as ‘gospel truth’ and that action be taken against Opposition politicians and MPs in the country.
Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, has even added a new allegation, accusing opposition politicians in Malaysia of having been bribed by the foreign mass media. I do not know know whether the Police have also lodged a police report to enable it to begin investigation, and whether it had summoned Dr. Koh Tsu Koon to produce evidence for his allegation.
These Gerakan leaders however, are not interested in the truth or falsity of the Sydney Sunday Telegraph allegation, but to politicise and capitalise on it to harass and silence the Opposition politicians – and what better instrument than the ISA where detentions without trial could be made without the need to produce any evidence whatsoever!
I call on the Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating and the Australian Cabinet to reconsider their refusal to declare their stand on the allegation and to make an exception of their ‘long-standing principle’ not to comment on intelligence reports.
This is all the more imperative because of the possibility that the allegation could lead to gave human rights violations in Malaysia as the use of the ISA to detain opposition politicians and MPs indefinitely without trial and without evidence.
Call on Australian Parliament to support the establishment of a Joint Malaysian-Australian Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the allegation.
I also hope that Australian MPs irrespective of party could urge the Australian Government to do honour and justice in this case by either confirming the Sydney Sunday Telegraph report by producing names and evidence of Malaysian opposition politicians bribed by Australian agents, or deny the allegation altogether.
Alternatively, the Australian Parliament could support the establishment of a Joint Malaysian-Australian Parliamentary commission of Inquiry to investigate into the allegation which had so unfairly tarnished the image of the Malaysian Parliament, and requiring ASIS to open all its records and to make available all its officers and agents as witnesses for such a joint parliamentary inquiry.