Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 3rd August 2009:
Police arrest of 589 people in crackdown of peaceful “Abolish ISA” assembly a “black eye” to Police and BN human rights but which Najib and Hishammuddin seem to regard as a “badge of honour”!
It is indeed both tragic and pathetic.
The mass arrest of 589 people in the harsh police crackdown of the peaceful patriotic “Abolish ISA” assembly in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday using excessive force and indiscriminate firing of tear gas and chemically-laced water cannon at all and sundry, including women and children, passers-by and the residents in the vicinity, is a veritable “black eye” to the police and the Barisan Nasional human rights record – nationally and internationally as evidenced by the very critical and damaging international media coverage.
But to Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and their other Cabinet Ministers, the “black day” in the Kuala Lumpur streets of August 1, 2009 – where it is not the peaceful patriotic tens of thousands who caused breaches of peace and disorder with their remarkable discipline and commitment to peaceful protest but the “disciplined” 5,000-strong police force on the directives of their police superiors – and the “black eye” to the police and Barisan Nasional human rights record are regarded as a “badge of honour”!
This shows the canyon of differences that have emerged on the part of the majority of thinking Malaysians and the international society on the one hand and the present power-holders on the other on what is the meaning of human rights, peaceful protest and the proper role and conduct of the police force.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz spoke about “crushing” the anti-ISA rally and declared that “As long as Barisan Nasional is leading the government, the ISA will not be abolished”.
Does Nazri think that Malaysia is run by the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Nicholas Ceausescu and Saddam Hussein?
If the majority of Malaysians want the ISA to be abolished, is the Barisan Nasional going to stand in the people’s way?
Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein is sabre-rattling, vowing action against Pakatan Rakyat leaders who “masterminded” the peaceful patriotic “Abolish ISA” protest on Saturday.
Hishammuddin can be assured of full support from leaders of all Barisan Nasional component parties is the Pakatan Rakyat leadership can be decapitated, especially for those who see this as the only way to save Barisan Nasional from defeat in the next general elections.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is more conciliatory, declaring that the government had nothing against the idea of public gatherings to voice out dissatisfaction, offering even to provide proper venues such as stadiums “where they can gather and voice their unhappiness”.
But why didn’t the Prime Minister voice his position and offer the use of stadiums before Saturday?
Why didn’t the Prime Minister respond to the request for a meeting by the Pakatan Rakyat leadership made on 28th July 2009, where he could have made these proposals?
Is Najib prepared to agree to a public inquiry by Suhakam to investigate who was responsible for the breaches of peace, disorder and gross human rights violations at the peaceful patriotic “Abolish ISA” gathering on Saturday – the 5,000-strong police contingents or the tens of thousands of peaceful patriotic Malaysians who want the ISA to be abolished?
Alternatively, an international human rights inquiry commission could be instituted compromising credible and eminent international human rights personalities to establish the truth – to ascertain who were really guilty of gross human rights violations at the peaceful patriotic “Abolish ISA” assembly on Saturday.
Is the Cabinet on Wednesday prepared to endorse such a human rights inquiry, whether by Suhakam or by an international tribunal?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor