Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 2nd August 2010:
Mass arrests of 36 people for candlelight vigils protesting 50th ISA anniversary clear signal that Najib and Hishammuddin are not prepared to repeal draconian laws to show greater respect and commitment to human rights of Malaysians
The mass arrests of 36 people in Petaling Jaya, Penang and Kota Bahru for candlelight vigils protesting the 50th anniversary of the Internal Security Act is a clear signal that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hisham are not prepared to repeal draconian laws to show greater respect and commitment to human rights of Malaysians.
The Najib government was fully aware beforehand of the peaceful candlelight vigils planned countrywide to protest against the pernicious and draconian Internal Security Act, which had detained over 10,000 people without trial in the past half-century, stifling fundamental liberties of Malaysians to freedom of speech and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and association and most important of all the right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention.
The police crackdown on peaceful candlelight vigils protesting against the 50th anniversary of the ISA in various parts of the country last night is an unmistakable statement by the Najib administration that it cannot be trusted in taking the country towards a more open, democratic and accountable direction.
If the Najib government is not prepared to respect the rights of citizens to gather peacefully in candlelight vigils to protest the 50th anniversary of the ISA, which pose no security threat or hazard in any manner, it gives the lie to all talk of pending democratic reforms, as allowing peaceful assemblies to be held without requiring police permits. Now all such talks require bigger pinches of salt!
In a way, the Police must be thanked for their high-handed and undemocratic actions last night, for it had been a powerful antidote to the soothing and lulling propaganda of the Najib administration for over a year that there would be greater respect for democracy and human rights causing a relaxing of vigilance among Malaysians.
The lesson from last night's high-handed police action is that Malaysians must not drop their guard in the battle to restore democracy and human rights.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor