30th Anniversary of Ops Lalang: The Struggle Against Repressive Legislation Continues (e/c)

Press Statement by DAP Secretary-General and MP for Bagan Lim Guan Eng in Kuala Lumpur on 27.10.2017

30th Anniversary of Ops Lalang: The Struggle Against Repressive Legislation Continues

Today is the 30th anniversary of one of the darkest episodes of modern Malaysian history, the Operasi Lalang arrest and detention of 106 people including NGO activists, politicians and academics under the draconian Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) on 27 October 1987. At the same time, media freedom was curtailed when the newspaper licenses of The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan were revoked.

As the first to be detained and the last released under Operasi Lalang, I have constantly reminded myself that we must never give up the struggle to free Malaysia from political persecution and repressive legislation. Although it has been 30 years since Operasi Lalang, which was the second largest ISA crackdown since the 13 May riots in 1969, our nation continues to be tormented by similar draconian laws that suppress our fundamental liberties. We therefore cannot afford to give up, because if we do then tyranny and oppression will win.

Although the ISA was finally repealed on 31 July 2012, there is no cause for rejoice as the spirit of the law continues to live on in the form of newly introduced laws and amendments to existing laws. Not long after the repeal of the ISA, the new Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) was introduced, reintroducing provisions for preventive detention. Although the government promised not to use the law against legitimate political opposition, the arrests of Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah and former UMNO politician Dato’ Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan as well as Tun Dr Mahathir’s former political secretary Matthias Chang proves that the law is nothing more than a political tool.

The enactment of SOSMA was followed by a raft of other oppressive laws, such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015, amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 as well as Section 124 of the Penal Code, which now criminalises “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy” and providing for 20 years imprisonment for the ill-defined “crime”. Further to that, the new National Security Council Act 2016 has bequeathed emergency powers to the Prime Minister, who is now empowered to declare “security areas” that allow the suspension of fundamental liberties.

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak’s promises made in 2011 to abolish the ISA and the Sedition Act now rings hollow. Not only as the ISA been replaced with a host of new and equally repressive legislation, the Sedition Act that the Prime Minister promised to abolish does not only continue to exist but has in fact been strengthened and widened in scope.

It is clear that the BN government under Najib has neither the political will nor the intention to restore the fundamental liberties of Malaysians, especially when the continued survival of his regime depends on the use of such laws in order to silence and suppress his political opponents.

We owe it to our future generations to ensure that Ops Lalang should never happen again, including repealing those repressive laws which are ISA laws in disguise. Only by bringing in a government that is committed to abolish all these laws that violates the fundamental human rights, can we ensure that Malaysians finally enjoy real freedom, especially freedom from fear.



茅草行动30周年纪念: 反对恶法压迫,国人仍需努力

今天是茅草行动30周年纪念 — 一个现代马来西亚史上最黑暗的一页。在1960年内部安全法令的恶法下,于1987年10月27日的茅草行动,当局一共逮捕及关押了包括非政府组织社运份子、政治人物及学者等106人。与此同时,媒体的自由受到限制,英文《星报》、中文《星洲日报》及国文《祖国文报》(Watan)遭撤销执照。


尽管内安法令终于在2012年7月31日被废除了,但是我们却没有高兴的理由,因为恶法依然透过新法律及修改现有的法律之形式“活着”。在内安法令被废除的不久之后,当局引入了新的2012年国家保安(特别措施)法令(简称国安法),并重新引入预防性扣留的规定。虽然政府承诺不会以此法令对付反对党的立法议员,但是随着净选盟主席玛丽亚陈、巫统前政治人物拿督斯里凯鲁丁阿布哈山及敦马哈迪医生的前政治秘书郑文杰(Matthias Chang)遭逮捕的待遇 ,证明了法律不过是一种政治工具。