Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang on
ISA arrests of Teresa Kok, Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Tan Hoon Cheng held
at DAP PJ Hqrs on Saturday, 13rd September 2008:
Call on Abdullah to withdraw from the
precipice of a new Malaysian dark age – release Teresa, RPK and Tan from
ISA immediately and cancel the show cause notice to three newspapers
DAP leaders, MPs and State Assembly
representatives are gathered in this media conference, together with the
parents of Teresa Kok, DAP National Organising Secretary, Selangor
Senior Exco Member and MP for Seputeh, to condemn in the strongest
possible terms the arrest under the Internal Security Act (ISA) of
Teresa, Raja Petra Kamaruddin and the senior Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan
We deplore these ISA arrest and attacks on the media and the blogosphere
which also constitute a violation of the Multimedia Super Corridor Bill
of Guarantees of no Internet censorship, as the ISA detention of the RPK,
the live wire of Malaysia Today news portal, is as good as Internet
censorship despite formal government unblocking of the news portal.
Instead of a 916 “sky change” or “political change”, the Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has orchestrated a 912 “sky-change” of
his own, with the ISA arrests and threats to the media and the
blogosphere, marking the failure of his premiership to usher in a more
open, accountable and democratic administration.
It shows how little things have changed in his five years as Prime
Minister – with hardly any structural and institutional reforms or
changes as all the repressive laws and institutions have remained
intact, just kept in abeyance awaiting to be reactivated, as has
The former Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad took more than six years
to abandon his “ABC” (clean, trustworthy and efficient) façade with the
1987 Ops Lalang, putting 106 people under ISA and closing three
However, Abdullah took less than five years since becoming Prime
Minister to show his face of repression by initiating the current
crackdown, up-to-now a mini-Ops Lalang with three ISA arrests and
against three newspapers.
This 2008 mini-Ops Lalang is completely unjustified and unacceptable for
(i) going against Abdullah’s 2004 general
election landslide mandate based on his reform pledges and
undertaking to break from the Mahathir past of repressive rule; and
(ii) a totally synthetic crisis arising from gross misgovernance, as
there is no national crisis, no racial tension or religious strain
unlike the pre-Operation Lalang 1987 which saw serious racial
tension resulting from a sustained and systematic campaign of
polarization by irresponsible elements.
It is the height of irresponsibility to
create a synthetic national crisis when the country was faced with a
grave economic crisis and the national focus of the
government-of-the-day should be to lead all Malaysians to address the
Abdullah is facing a personal political crisis, as evident from the open
call by the Umno Vice President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin on him to step
down as Prime Minister earlier than his timeframe of mid-2010 and the
support given by Umno Deputy President Datuk Seri Najib Razak to
However, Abdullah’s personal political crisis as to whether he would
have to step down as Prime Minister much earlier than the June-2010
timeline under his “power transition” plan cannot be made an excuse to
create a synthetic crisis to justify the use of draconian laws and
powers like the ISA and to engender conditions to stamp out attempts by
Umno leaders to bring forward his timetable to relinquish the Prime
All fair-minded and right-thinking Malaysians, regardless of race,
religion or political affiliation, reject the use of ISA for the arrest
of RPK, Tan Hoon Cheng and Teresa Kok.
RPK’s writings are open and public. He should be charged in court if he
had contravened any laws of the land, affording him the opportunity to
defend himself in an open trial. The detention-without-trial ISA should
not be used against RPK, as it is not only undemocratic and repressive
but a clear case of abuse of power.
The detention of Sin Chew reporter Tan Hoon Cheng has evoked all-round
outrage by Malays as well as non-Malays, Muslims and non-Muslims.
Everyone in Malaysia is asking – why Ahmad Ismail, the person who had
made the provocative, inflammatory and racist reference to the Chinese
in Malaysia is not acted against but the reporter, Tan Hoon Cheng, is
detainded under the ISA just for reporting what Ahmad said? What has
Malaysia become when the most elementary notions of justice and fair
play have become alien notions to the leaders in government?
Teresa’s ISA detention is most ludicrous. She had been accused by the
former Selangor Mentri Besar Khir Toyo of wanting to ban the azan in a
certain locality in Selangor, which was played up by Utusan Malaysia.
Teresa immediately denied the allegation, which was backed up by the
mosque committee concerned and the PAS MP for the area also lodged a
police report against Khir for the baseless allegation.
If action should be taken, the person who should be the target should be
Khor Toyo. Why was Teresa detained under the ISA?
Last night, Teresa was informed at about nine something that she could
be on the blacklist of ISA arrests, with the suggestion she go into
hiding. Teresa refused as she believed that there is no reason why she
should go into hiding as she had not done anything wrong to the country
and she was fully prepared to face any ISA arrest. I am very proud of
her. I am reminded of my first ISA arrest in 1969 when some party
leaders advised me not to return to Kuala Lumpur from Kota Kinabalu as I
was on the ISA blacklist. I refused to run away from the country, as I
maintained that when the people was going through their darkest hour,
the place for me was in the country with them.
The country has been swirling with speculation as to who else were on
the ISA blacklist. Among the names mentioned were the DAP
Secretary-General and Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng and myself.
Teresa has already become the first woman MP to be detained under the
ISA. Is Abdullah to create another history by having the first Chief
Minister in Malaysia to be detained under the ISA?
I call on Abdullah or the Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to
publicly declare who are on the ISA blacklist to be detained, whether
Guan Eng and I are on the list. I will not go into hiding if I am on the
list. There is no need for any cat-and-mouse game. Just make it public.
Cabinet Ministers should explain whether the three ISA arrests and
action against the three newspapers had received Cabinet approval as
Ministers like the Information Minister, Shabery Cik have openly
defended the ISA arrest of RPK.
I call on Malaysians to be calm and go about their usual business
peacefully and normally. They should not allow themselves to be provoked
although there are irresponsible elements who want to engineer another
May 13 or another full-scale Ops Lallang.
Malaysia in 2008 is completely different from 1969 when certain elements
succeeded in creating a scenario of racial confrontation between the
Malays and the Chinese over the May 13 incident. There is no racial
confrontation in Malaysia of 2008, as the Pakatan Rakyat comprises all
races – Malays, Chinese and Indians – and all religions!
I also want to call on Abdullah to pull back from the precipice of a new
Malaysian dark age. Release Teresa, RPK and Tan from ISA immediately and
cancel the show cause notice to the three newspapers concerned, or his
premiership wll be stained forever by the repression and dark age of 912
- September 12, 2008.
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor