Speech by Lim Kit Siang at the Serdang/Klang DAP Dialogue for branch leaders and local councillors at the Oriental Crystal Hotel, Klang on Sunday, 14th September 2008 at 12 noon: 

I will meet the Parliament Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin tomorrow on the actions that should be taken by Parliament over an MP’s ISA arrest on totally baseless grounds

I will meet the Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia in Parliament tomorrow over the detention of DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the actions which should be taken by Parliament over an MP’s arrest on totally baseless and non-existent grounds.

Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said yesterday that Teresa was detained under the ISA as she had questioned the sensitive issues such as the azan (call for prayers for Muslims) and that could cause ill-will and disharmony.

This allegation was first made by the former Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Dr. Mohamad Khir Toyo, which was then sensationalised by Utusan Malaysia.

Teresa had made an immediate denial that she had tried to disallow azan in Kota Damansara Sri Serdang and Puchong Jaya. The mosque committees in both areas have endorsed Teresa’s denial with the Masjid Kota Damansara officials explaining that a damaged ampliflier had resulted in the calls to prayer to be made without the aid of a PA system while Masjid Kinrara mosque committee said Teresa had never set foot in Masjid Kinrara and was not involved in the azan petition issue in the area.

The PAS MP for Kota Raja Dr. Siti Mariah Mahmud had also lodged a police report against Khir on Thursday for his statement published in Utusan Malaysia on Tuesday, as it was “maliciously intended and aimed at raising the anger and anxiety of Malay Muslims”.

The police has no basis whatsoever therefore to detain Teresa under the ISA for the baseless and non-existent grounds linking her to any azan controversy.

As an active political leader, how can Hamid repeat the baseless claim of the police about Teresa’s questioning the azan issue as anyone following the news whether in the printed or electronic media would know that it was the irresponsible and sole concoction of Khir Toyo and Utusan Malaysia?

The competence and professionalism of the police is suffering another fatal blow – after the scandal of the 20-hour ISA detention of senior Sin Chew reporter Tan Hoon Cheng - when they could detain an MP and Selangor Senior State Exco on completely frivolous and non-existing grounds, known to anyone who follow current news.

As a responsible Home Minister, he should have called up the police officer responsible for Teresa’s arrest to demand explanation wny the ISA had been invoked against a Member of Parliament and State Exco on completely non-existent grounds and even to take disciplinary action against the police officer concerned for such irresponsibility, incompetence and gross misuse of powers.

I want to discuss Teresa’s ISA arrest with the Speaker as it is not just about the violation of an MP’s individual human rights and parliamentary responsibilities, but the utter contempt of Parliament shown by the Police and the Executive when an MP could be silenced and Malaysians deprived of their elected representative and spokesperson on completely non-existing grounds!

The United States yesterday summoned Malaysia’s top envoy in Washington to protest its crackdown on dissent.

In response, the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim warned the United States not to interfere in the country’s domestic affairs.

Rais should know that in the present world of 2008, where human rights is recognised as an universal one, no country has the right to shut out international scrutiny, criticism and censure for gross human rights violations – and this applies to Malaysia as well as to the United States.

The United States must face the present-day international reality of being subjected to criticism by foreign governments and leaders including from Malaysia for any gross human rights violations such as the Guatanamao Bay human rights scandals.

Similarly, Malaysia cannot claim immunity from scrutiny, criticism and even censure from foreign governments and leaders for local human rights blemishes, like the recent spate of crackdown of ISA arrests and threats to media freedom.

It would be more worthwhile for Rais to invest effort to remove the causes justifying the United States criticism of Malaysia for the latest bout of human rights violations by getting the Cabinet to free immediately and unconditionally Teresa and RPK (also the Hindraf Five and other ISA detainees in Kamunting) as well as to cancel the show cause letters to three newspapers instead of issuing a meaningless warning to the United States.

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