Last-minute police ban of DAP forum on Lim Guan Eng case in Pantai Kundor, Malacca this evening and the  FOMCA forum on water crisis tomorrow ominous signs that Malaysia is heading towards a police state

Media  Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): DAP protests in the strongest possible manner against two latest examples of high-handed undemocratic police action which are inimical to the development of a vibrant civil society - the last-minute ban of DAP forum on the Lim Guan Eng case in Pantai Kundor, Malacca this evening and the FOMCA forum on the water crisis tomorrow.

Both these developments, together with the police disruption of the "Gathering of Legal Eagles", a forum for lawyers and concerned Malaysians about justice, freedom, democracy and good governance at Federal Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday are ominous signs that Malaysia is heading towards a police state.

The Malay kampong of Pantai Kundor understands why it is important to have justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia, for the kampong people were the victims of the most unjust land acquisition laws and it was Lim Guan Eng and other DAP leaders who stood together with the Malay villagers to defend their fundamental rights.

The forum in Pantai Kundor tonight to discuss the important issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance is doubly significant, firstly  because of the history of the battle of the people of Pantai Kundor against injustice and the lack of good governance, and secondly, because of the panellists who are to take part in the forum.

The panellists at the Pantai Kundor forum include Dr. Sanusi Othman, Partai Rakyat secretary-general, PAS Member of Parliament Mohamad Sabu, Socialist Party of Malaysia protem chairman, Mohamad Nasir, DAP National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin, DAP Vice Chairman Ahmad Nor, DAP Deputy Secretary-General, Abdul Muluk Daud, Lim Guan Eng and myself.

The Pantai Kundor forum would be the second occasion to demonstrate that the public policy concerns of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance arising from the Lim Guan Eng case transcends personality, party, race or religion - for all Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans should be able to stand united behind these issues of concern.

The Barisan Nasional parties may have reason to be worried that more and more Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, are uniting in their concerns for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, but this should be no concern or business of the police - for it  does not pose any security problem but at most a challenge to the government of the day to be more responsive to the aspirations of the people for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

The panellists are heading for Pantai Kundor this evening as scheduled and I call on the police to be more sensible and to allow the forum to go on as scheduled.

I am thorougholy astounded by the police ban on the FOMCA forum tomorrow on the water crisis, a day after the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor said that the police would not stop the forum although he volunteered the view that forums are not the answer to the water crisis.

It is clear that the Inspector-General of Police is again buckling down to the political pressures of the Federal and Selangor State Governments - showing the lack of independence and impartiality of the police leadership in crucial areas of public concern.

The Minister for Works, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu and the Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Abu Hassan may be very uncomfortable about the FOMCA forum on the water crisis, but why should the Police come in to bail them out by using undemocratic laws to stifle the freedom of expression and assembly of Malaysians suffering from months of water shortage crisis?

Donít the people have the democratic right to express their deep dissatisfaction at the failure of the various government leaders and authorities to spare the people from such a protracted water shortage crisis - which have taken several lives as a result of the hardships and rigours imposed by the crisis?

The police ban on a water crisis forum will again make Malaysia a laughing stock in the world, as Malaysia would have transformed from a country priding itself as having the tallest building in the world and the highest flagpole to a country where Malaysians cannot peacefully gather together to discuss about justice, freedom, democracy, good governance  or the water crisis.

Has the government decided to crack down on human rights and democratic freedoms using the economic crisis, in particular the -1.8 negative GDP growth in the first quarter of 1998, as an excuse?

The Cabinet meeting tomorrow should let Malaysians and the world know whether the Malaysian government has decided that Malaysia is going to pioneer a new solution to the economic crisis, where there is not only no political reforms but even more draconian restriction and stifling of civil liberties!

I have today written to the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor asking for a meeting, In my letter, I told the Inspector-General of Police  that the police disruption of "The Gathering of Legal Eagles" at the Banquet Hall, Federal Hotel on Sunday, 31st May  1998 and  the unnecessary display of police force has raised considerable public disquiet about the proper role of the police in the Malaysian civil society.

I said that DAP leaders would like to have a meeting with the Inspector-General of Police to  discuss issues concerning freedom of speech and assembly as it would be most unfortunate if Malaysia gives the world the impression that the country is increasingly becoming a police state.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong