by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, September 9, 1994:
Challenge to Barisan Nasional Government to hold a national referendum as to whether they support thedetention of Al Arqam leader, Ashaari Muhammad, his wife, legal adviser and other followers under ISA or want them to be charged in open court.
It is very sad that the MCA continues to betray its marginalised and irrelevant political role in the Barisan Nasional – having absolutely nothing to say about the Rahim Tamby Cik scandals whiles trying to distort and-capitalise on the Al Arqam issue.
In the past weeks, MCA leaders and publicists led by the MCA National Vice President and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, DatukWong See Wah had been trying their utmost to get some petty party advantage by painting, the picture that the DAP suppotts Al Arqam and its leader, Ashaari Muhammad, in their ‘deviationist’ Islamic -teachings.
What does Wong See Wah and the MCA leaders know about Islam, and ‘deviationist teachings’ when the the leadership of MCA, which claims to be the third largest Chinese-based political party in the world does not even know what the ordinary Malaysian Chinese want in Malaysia?
The DAP had never supported Al Arqam and never had any connection with Al Arqam. As a non-Muslim, I do not want to pass judgement on whether Al Arqam is an Islamic ‘deviationist’ movement – and I will leave it to the Muslim community to decide.
However, as Malaysian political leaders who want to see greater liberalisation and democratisation in the country, we cannot keep silent when the government invokes umdemocratic laws like the Internal Security Act which allows for indefinite detention without trial.
In a statement yesterday, Wong See Wah challenged the DAP to launch a mass signature campaign to ascertain whether the people support the government in taking action against Al Arqam for prejudicing the security of the nation.
Such a challenge shows the lack of confidence of the MCA leadership on the issue – for if it had been confident, it would have itself launched a mass signature campaign to establish this point.
However, Wong See Wah has missed the issue completely. The question is not whether the government is taking action against Al Arqam for its ‘deviationist’ teachings, but why the government has resorted to undemocratic laws like the Internal Security Act to detain Ashaari Muhamed, his wife, the legal adviser, and others instead of charging them under the ordinary laws of the load where they have the right to defend themselves in a public trial?
DAP will come to the defence of Rahim Tamby Cik if he is detained under the ISA for his scandals – not to defend his scandals but his right to an open trial.
Having been detained twice under the Internal Security Act, I know the great injustice and iniquity of the ISA – where a person could be detained indefinitely without one iota of evidence against him.
Is it the stand of Wong See Wah and the MCA leaders that those who damage the interest of Malaysia should be detained under the ISA?
If so, will Wong See Wah and the MCA leaders support the detention of Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik under the ISA, as no other national leader in Malaysian history has done more to tarnish the country’s reputation, honour and credibility locally as well as internationally as Rahim Tamby Cik in the past two weeks with his triple scandals?
MCA in the past had produced its corps of national leaders like former MCA President, Tan Koon Swan, former MCA Youth leader, Kee Yong Wee and former MCA Deputy Minister, Wong Choon Wing who had abused the trust of the Malaysian Chinese and committed criminal, breach of trust resulting in financial scandals and colossal losses to the Chinese community.
Will the MCA leadership support that in future, if there are again these type of MCA national leaders, they should be detained under the ISA – where they could be detained indefinitely without trial?
Let me make the DAP stand clear. The DAP is against the Internal Security Act, as there are adequate laws in the land to deal with all forms of crimes and offences, including in the case of Al Arqam and Ashaari Muhamad.
The DAP will oppose the use of the ISA even if it is used against Rahim Tamby Cik for his triple scandals – the allegation of having an affair with a 15-year-old girl; his corrup¬tion scandals of accumulating extraordinary and unusual wealth and his high-handed treatment of the Malay kampong folks at Pantai Kundor and Tanah Merah over land acquisition.
DAP will come to the defence of Rahim Tamby Cik if he is detained under the ISA – not to defend his scandals, but to defend his right to an open trial.
I doubt Wong See Wah and the other MCA leaders can understand this important distinction or they would not try to distort the DAP stand in claiming that DAP supports Al Arqam and its ‘deviationist’ Islamic teachings when we criticise the use of ISA to detain Ashaari, his wife, legal adviser and other followers.
The DAP’s stand opposing the use of ISA to detain Ashaari Muhamad, his wife and others is clear and unequivocal, and we are prepared for an open debate with MCA, Gerakan or even UMNO – for the issue at stake is not the Islamic faith, but the question of human rights and democracy.
I believe that the majority of Malaysians, both Muslims and non-Muslims, do not support the use of the ISA to detain Ashaari, his wife, legal adviser and other followers, which denied them the right of
I challenge the Government to hold a national referendum to ascertain whether the people support the government use of ISA to detain Ashaari, his wife, legal adviser and other followers or whether the people want them to be charged, in an open court if they had committed any offences against the laws of the land.
Are the four MCA Ministers prepared to raise this referendum proposal at the Cabinet meeting next Wednesday? Will Wong See Wah himself support this proposal for the government to hold such a national referendum?