by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, September 5, 1994:
Thailand’ s handing over of Ashaari, his wife, child and four other members’ to the Malaysian authorities for detention under the Internal Security Act sets a dangerous ASEAN precedent and must be deplored.
Thailand’s handing over of Al Arqam leader, Ashaari Muhammad, his wife, six-month old daughter and four other members to the Malaysian authorities for detention under the Internal Security Act sets a dangerous ASEAN precedent and must be deplored.
I do not want to get involved in the issue as to whether Al Arqam has deviated from Islam, but the use of Internal Security Act to detain Ashaari, his wife, and four other Al Arqam members must be opposed by all Malaysians who want the country to move towards greater democratisation and not relapse to a more authoritarian rule.
If Ashaari, his wife and followers have committed any offences against the law of the land, they should be charged in court, and be given the benefit of a open trial.
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, had condemned the ISA as a violation of human rights as well as against the Islamic teachings of justice when he was ABIM leader in the 1970s, and the use of the ISA against Ashaari, his wife and other Al Arqam followers is therefore completely unjustifiable.
The government’s revocation of the passports of Ashaari, his wife and other Al Arqam followers is also most unpredented and deplorable.
In the past, there were Malaysians who were involved in gross criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of public funds, as in the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance scandal and the Central Co-operative Bank scandal, but who cheated justice by absconding or staying abroad.
Why didn’t the Malaysian government revoke their passports and get the governments in the country where they are hiding to send them back to Malaysia to stand trial or face investigations?
Will the Ashaari example become a precedent where the government can revoke the passports of Malaysian opposition leaders or critics who attend international conferences overseas and who give speeches or papers which are regarded as critical, unacceptable or even ‘disloyal’ by the Barisan Nasional Government, forcing them to rush back to Malaysia or become an international ‘fugitive’?
If the Thai Government does not welcome Ashaari’s presence in Thailand, it could refuse him entry into Thailand. This is very different, from its dishonourable action in handing over Ashaari, his wife and Al Arqam followers to the Malaysian authorities for detention under the Internal Security Act. Even if the Thai authorities wanted to hand over Ashaari and others to the Malaysian government, it should be through the normal extradition proceedings.
Is this the new solidarity among ASEAN governments to take a common and united stand to help each other violate human rights in their countries?
The Thai Prime Minister, Chuan Leekpai owes not only the people of Thailand but also the people of Malaysia a full explanation why the Thai Government had acted so dishonourably, in utter disregard of human rights.
The Thai Prime Minister should add his voice to ask the Malaysian Government to immediately release Ashaari, his wife and four other followers under the Internal Security Act and that if they had committed any offences against Malaysia, they should be charged under the ordinary laws of the land.