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Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 17th September 2011: 

Will repeal of ISA and slew of other legislative changes be completed before next general elections or will they be “work-in-progress” trotted out as BN election “goodies” ?

I had said at the Sabah Pakatan Rakyat convention in Kota Kinabalu last evening that the Pakatan Rakyat has begun to chalk up victories even before the 13th general elections, citing as example the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's announcement to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA) which is one of the specific promises made by Pakatan Rakyat in the Buku Jingga manifesto.

This has been quickly rebutted by Najib today who said that no one else but Barisan Nasional should take credit for the repeal of the ISA and the slew of other law reforms which he announced in his Malaysia Day message on Wednesday night.

Najib claimed that “these are not the fruits of their struggle” but was a decision made by the Barisan Nasional government “because we listened to Malaysians who want this change”.

Najib even said the decision to scrap the ISA was part of his promise to amend the controversial law when he took office in 2009.

Not to mention Malaysians at large – but even leaders and members of Barisan Nasional parties would require enormous capacity of self-deception to believe such tall tales.

If Najib's is to be believed, that the repeal of the ISA and the removal of other draconian laws had been in the works since April 2009 when he became Prime Minister, then Najib's announcements on Malaysia Day eve should mark the final step in government review and reform of oppressive laws and its readiness to fully implement them when Parliament meets on October 3, tabling all necessary legislative changes for parliamentary sanction.

But is this the case?

Clearly not or the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz would not have said that there was not enough time to repeal the ISA in the October sitting of parliament and that the draft replacement laws would be tabled during the next meeting in March.

This is because the “change of heart” to repeal the ISA and remove other draconian measures is not the result “comprehensive review” of draconian laws in the past 28 months after he became Prime Minister in April 2009, but the result of electoral pressure after the catastrophic loss of public confidence in his leadership, both nationally and internationally, from the disastrous government mishandling of the 709 Bersih 2.0 peaceful rally for free and fair elections in Malaysia.

In fact, if the repeal of the ISA and the removal of other draconian laws in the country had been actively and seriously reviewed and pursued in the highest government and political circles since Najib became Prime Minister in April 2009, the arrogant, ham-fisted, high-handed and mindless repression and clampdown on the Bersih 2.0 campaign such as the unjustified PSM arrests under Emergency Ordinance, ridiculous arrests for wearing Berish 2.0 T-shirts or just wearing yellow, would not have taken place.

Najib has only himself to blame for the skepticism and cynicism about his sincerity, commitment and steadfastness to democratic, electoral and legal reforms because of his own record as PM since April 2009.

All patriotic and right-thinking Malaysians want the ISA and all draconian and repressive laws to be removed from the statute books – but can Najib be trusted to “walk the talk” of his public promises?

Najib must not deride but sincerely address the sea of doubts and questioning about his commitment and resolve to introduce a more open and democratic environment in Malaysia, upholding human rights, a free and responsible press, as well as the principles of accountability, transparency and integrity?

Five questions which demand answer from Najib are:

  1. Will the repeal of ISA and slew of other legislative changes be completed before next general elections or will they be “work-in-progress” trotted out as BN election “goodies”?

  2. Will the replacements for the repeal or removal of repressive laws and measures result in the reincarnation of these very same draconian features in a new format, e.g. repeal of ISA but enactment of new law which could be described as ISA2?

  3. What Najib announced on Wednesday does not satisfy the definition of Political Transformation Programme for Malaysia. Will he support the repeal of all other restrictive and draconian laws including the Universities and University Collegs Act, Sedition Act and the Official Secrets Act.

  4. Is Najib prepared to repeal all provisions in the statute books which undermine the doctrine of the separation of powers such as excluding judicial review of executive decisions.

  5. Will Najib support a motion in Parliament to ratify international human rights conventions, in particular the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights?

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



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