DAP leaders must be careful not to fall into BN’s trap of using the UMNO-MCA “sandiwara” quarrel as an excuse to exercise the Internal Security Act(ISA) powers of detention without trial. This “sandiwara” quarrel is a chilling reprise of the events during 1987 when then Deputy President Datuk Lee Kim Sai had a media war with then UMNO Youth President Datuk Najib Tun Razak.
This verbal media war between MCA and UMNO was then used a pretext by BN to initiate Operasi Lallang. However instead of detaining both UMNO and MCA leaders involved, DAP, PAS and PSM leaders were detained. Only Datuk Lee was asked to go on holiday to Australia.
Amongst those detained were Karpal Singh, Lim Kit Siang and myself. Pas leaders detained were Mohd Sabu, MPs Datuk Mahfuz Omar and YB Khalid Samad as well as PSM Selangor ADUN Dr Mohd Nasir. A total of 117 people were detained including 16 DAP MPs and State Assemblymen.
DAP leaders should not fall into the same trap that BN had set 23 years ago to use the “sandiwara” quarrel between MCA and UMNO as an excuse to use the ISA to distract attention from the real problems facing the country.
Otherwise DAP leaders will again be victimized and detained as happened under the 1987 Operasi Lallang, whilst the MCA and UMNO leaders escape unpunished. As BN faced challenges of rule of law, corruption, abuse of powers and a declining economy, playing up racial sentiments is an easy way of not being accountable for their failures.