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Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang at DAP Office in Alor Star, Kedah on Saturday, 9th May 2009: 

Remove restrictive ISA release conditions, lift ban on Hindraf and appoint Uthayakuma as member of Royal Commission into marginalisation of Malaysian Indians

I am calling this media conference on the release of the three Hindraf leaders, P. Uthayakumar, DAP Selangor Assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah M. Manoharan and K. Vasanthakumar from Kamunting Detention Centre under the Internal Security Act (ISA) two hours ago.

The formation of Hindraf, the arbitrary, undemocratic and unjust detention of the five Hindraf leaders in December and the Makkal Sakti phenomenon were important factors resulting in the March 8 “political tsunami” in last year’s general election.

The time has come for the Barisan Nasional government not just to release the three remaining Hindraf leaders under the ISA today but to come to terms and address the root causes for the alienation and marginalisation of the Indian community in the country after half-a-century of nationhood.

Neither the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak nor the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein should entertain any notion that the Malaysian Indians should “membalas budi” for the release of the Hindraf leaders, as they should not be detained without trial under the ISA in the first place.

To realistically and boldly address the root causes of the Hindraf and Makkal

Sakti phenomena, I call on Najib to implement three measures:

  • Remove all the restrictive and draconian conditions for the release of the three Hindraf leaders today, as well as on the two other Hindraf leaders, Ganapathi Rao and R. Kenghadharan, who were released on April 5, barring them from speaking in public, taking part in political and NGO activities, and restricting both space and time as barring them from leaving their restricted locality, to be at home by 7 pm every day and requiring them to report regularly to the police.

  • Lift the government ban on Hindraf as an unlawful organisation so that it could take part in the nation-building process; and

  • Appoint Uthayakumar as a member of Royal Commission into the marginalisation of Malaysian Indians which have reduced them into a new underclass in Malaysia after half-a-century of nationhood. (More than one Royal Commission should be informed on the marginalisation of substantial segments of the Malaysian population, whether the ordinary Malays, Orang Asli, Kadazan-Dusun-Murut or Ibans).

The last few days have seen the public credibility and legitimacy of the Malaysian police plummet to a new low, especially with its crackdown on peaceful dissent and human rights, resulting in the police arrest of 116 persons in three days – including 69 arrests with 10 MPs/State Assembly members in the Ipoh lockdown on the Day of Infamy of May 7 - reminiscent of the Operation Lalang 22 years ago.

All because of legitimate nation-wide protests at the unethical, undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional power grab, which reached a new infamy in the May 7 Perak State Assembly when the Perak Speaker, V. Sivakumar, in Speaker robes and in the Speaker chair, was bodily dragged out of the Assembly by police officers and goons.

There are three things which the Police must do to repair the damage it has done to its reputation and credibility in the past three days:

Firstly, Najib and Hishammuddin should direct all police personnel to back off from the crackdown on peaceful dissent and human rights expressions, regarding candlelight vigils as greater threats to national security than capital crimes or endemic crime, providing a glimpse of the return of Mahathirism.

Secondly, a clear directive to all police personnel to return to their basic and first duty to protect the lives and property of ordinary Malaysians, which are under great peril as a result of endemic crime as highlighted by the death of two pregnant women, Saripah Mohd in Kota Baru and Jamilah Selamat in Batu Pahat within 72 hours, both killed in two separate snatch thefts when they fell off their motorcycles!

Thirdly, Hishammuddin and the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan should publicly apologise for the outrage of the police arrest of five lawyers, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, Murnie Hidayah Anuar, Puspawati Rosman, Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal and Syuhaini Safwan, all members of the Bar Council legal aid centre for going to the aid of those arrested in candlelight vigils in protest at the arrest of BERSIH spokesman Wong Chin Huat.

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



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