Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang at the Perak Mentri Besar's Office, Ipoh on Thursday, 18th September 2008 at 12 noon: 

Call on Abdullah to make a categorical public assurance that the ISA will not be used against Anwar Ibrahim whether to foil "916" political change or on the preposterous ground of being a "threat to national security and economy"

The uncharacteristically stern and harsh allegation by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday that the Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a threat to the national security and economy who wanted to ""destroy the country and exploit the people's trust and tarnish the country's image abroad" had sparked speculation that the stage is being set for a Operation Lalang 2 crackdown and Anwar's arrest under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

All right-thinking Malaysians must deplore in the strongest terms the veiled threat by Abdullah that Anwar would be arbitrarily and undemocratically silenced as the allegation that Anwar is a threat to national security and economy is a most ludicrous and preposterous one.

I have been twice detained under the ISA, once in 1969 and the second time in 1987, becoming the guest of His Majesty's Government for a total of 35 months and on both occasions, I was accused of being "a threat to national security"!

All the 16 DAP MPs and leaders detained in the 1987 Operation Lalang dragnet under the ISA were all accused of being threats to national security but these are all baseless catch-all allegations just to justify the abuse of the ISA to silence critics and dissent.

We were threats to the political security of the Barisan Nasional leaders but it is the democratic and citizenship right of every Malaysian to challenge the political credibility, legitimacy and authority of the ruling government through the democratic process or we should not claim that Malaysia practises parliamentary democracy.

Such democratic challenges do not become threats to national security just because those in power are in fear of losing the perks of office and power.

Anwar Ibrahim can be accused of posing a grave threat to the political security of Abdullah and the other Umno and Barisan Nasional leaders with his "916 sky-change" plan, but he cannot under any stretch of imagination be accused of being a threat to national security and economy.

Abdullah should not prop up his political life by resorting to the abuse of the ISA which had been enacted to deal with subversion or organised violence.

The toppling of the Barisan Nasional national government by getting the allegiance of the majority of the 222 MPs in Parliament to support a Pakatan Rakyat federal government is neither "subversion" nor "organised violence" intended in the Preamble of the ISA enacted 48 years ago in 1960.

In fact, the toppling of the government-of-the-day is part and parcel of the democratic process if the government-of-the-day loses support of the majority of the elected MPs, resulting in a change of government.

In first-word Parliaments and developed nations, change of government resulting from the withdrawal of support by the majority of MPs is a common occurrence, which is accepted and transacted without any threat of chaos or disorder with all political leaders participating peacefully in an orderly transition of power.

Malaysia is experiencing the possible change of federal government for the first time in the nation's 51-year history, as this has never happened in Malays before.

This does not mean that any change of federal power should not be conducted in a democratic, orderly and peaceful manner.

Since he became Prime Minister, Abdullah has been talking about his dream of Malaysia shedding its "First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality" malaise to join the ranks of first-world developed nations.

Malaysia is presently undergoing a critical test whether the nation can become a first-world developed nation where democratic change of government at the national level is accepted as an integral part of the democratic process as in developed countries in the West.

This is why Abdullah should make a public statement that if the Barisan Nasional government loses majority support and Anwar can get the support of the majority of the 222 MPs, he will gracefully, orderly, peacefully and democratically effect a transition of power for a new federal government to come into being.

This is also why Abdullah should make a categorical public assurance that the ISA will not be used to silence and arrest Anwar whether to foil the "916 sky-change" plan to replace the Barisan Nasional government with a new Pakatan Rakyat government or on the preposterous and baseless ground of being a "threat to national security and economy".

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor