Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling
on Tuesday, 12nd August 2008:
Abdullah’s new edict of no forums on
religious or racial issues – is his second premiership going to be even
worse than 22-year Mahathir administration?
ThTo many concerned Malaysians, the Prime
Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has shown his true colours
yesterday – he is not that open, liberal and tolerant after all.
He laid down two edicts for his second administration:
• No open forums or dialogues on religious or
racial issues as they can undermine peace and stability – no more
discussion on matters of religion or race that had already been
enshrined in the Federal Constitution; and
• No objection to the use of Internal Security Act and Sedition Act
against those who organize such forums like the Bar Council – up to
the Home Ministry to act against the Bar Council.
Is it any wonder that Malaysians react to
such edicts with the premonition that the second Abdullah premiership
could be even worse than the previous 22-year Mahathir administration?
In one fell swoop, Abdullah has backed his deputy, Najib Razak and the
Home Minister, Syed Hamid Albar in lining up against the Bar Council for
organizing the forum on Conversion to Islam to discuss the conflict of
laws arising from civil and shariah court jurisdictions and Article
121(1A) of the Federal Constitution and freedom of expression in
general, as well as gave back-handed approval if not outright embracing
of the demonstrators who had successfully stormed and disrupted the Bar
Council forum by dragooning the police into their service.
How ironic that Abdullah could make such a statement in the same breadth
as talking about the importance of making Malaysia more attractive to
encourage more foreign direct investment by having good governance –
after chairing the first meeting of the Economic Council.
Was Abdullah unaware that he was in fact going against the fundamental
principles and precepts of good governance in giving his blessing to the
storming and disruption of the Bar Council forum by demonstrators on
Saturday – which is not going to inspire confidence of investors,
foreign or local, about the rule of law, the system of justice or the
integrity of national institutions?
The media have published some MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders speaking up
in support of the Bar Council forum. The acid test is whether the
leaders and Ministers of MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other Barisan Nasional
component parties from Sabah and Sarawak are prepared to raise this
issue in Cabinet tomorrow and the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council in an
emergency meeting to demand that the fundamental right of the Bar
Council and Malaysians to hold such forums should not be abridged or
denied but must be respected and protected.
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor