30th Anniversary of Ops Lalang mass arrests – call on Malaysians to unite to save democracy, the rule of law, human rights and to eradicate corruption and kleptocracy
Today marks the 30th anniversary of Operation Lalang which brought about the darkest days for democracy and human rights.
There was not only the arrest of 106 Malaysians, including opposition leaders – 16 of whom were from the DAP, including MPs and State Assemblymen – trade unionists, social activists, environmentalists, Chinese educationists and religious workers, there was also the wholesale attacks on press freedom with the closure of three newspapers, the assault on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and the series of undemocratic legislation which caused a tectonic shift in the Malaysian political landscape, subordinating the legislative and judicial branches to the Executive.
Operation Lalang in 1987 brought the fragile plant of Malaysian democracy to the brink of ruin and disaster.
But Malaysian resilience, the spirit and love for freedom, justice and the nation, did not wilt or capitulate but sprang back not only to recover lost ground and to achieve new democratic breakthroughs as in the 13th General Election when 52% of popular vote sought the first change of national government but the people were denied the fruits of democratic victory because of undemocratic gerrymandering of parliamentary constituencies.
Democracy in Malaysia is facing another crisis, superadded on to which is the international infamy and ignominy of being regarded worldwide as a global kleptocracy.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak promised to make Malaysia “the best democracy of the world”, but after more than eight years of his premiership, Malaysia falls far short of the conditions to be a “normal democracy” let alone being the “world’s best democracy”.
Only a change of government at the national level, for the first time in 60 years, can Malaysians fully restore democracy, the rule of law, human rights and save Malaysia from the interntional infamy and ignominy of a global kleptocracy.
On the 30th Anniversary of Ops Lalang mass arrests, I call on Malaysians to unite to save democracy, the rule of law, human rights and to eradicate corruption and kleptocracy.