Police ban  of "Gathering of Legal Eagles" in sympathy, support and solidarity with Lim Guan Eng a day of shame for the Police


Media Conferenc Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Federal Hotel, KL, Sunday): The police ban of "Gathering of Legal Eagles" in sympathy, support and solidarity with Lim Guan Eng scheduled to be held at Federal Hotel (Banquet Hall) this morning is a day of shame for the Police.

It shows a perverted sense of priorities that the Federal Hotel is swarming with police personnel and  Black Marias this morning as if the Federal Hotel has become  the headquarters of an armed insurrection which is trying to topple the Goverrnment!

The "Gathering of Legal Eagles" is only  a forum  for  lawyers in the Klang Valley as well as Malaysians concerned about public policy issues which have been brought to the fore by the Lim Guan Eng case, such as:
 

 
When the Police have to be mobilised in full force to deal with a  gathering meant to  provide an opportunity for  an intellectual discussion of these important issues, something is very wrong with those in power in Malaysia.  What happened this morning is another instance which will make Malaysia a laughing stock of the world.

In the past two months, five Sympathy, Support and Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng round-table conferences/forums had been held in Kuala Lumpur.  These were  not secret or underground but open and public meetings, which were openly publicised and a few were even advertised.  Every time we had complied with the conventional practice in Kuala Lumpur of informing the relevant police district, and at every such conference, the police had personnel present.

The same conventional practice was also used for the Gathering of Legal Eagles. The DAP National Organising Secretary and MP for Cheras, Tan Kok Wai, wrote an official letter to the OCPD of Dang Wangi, Zainal Abidin bin Ali, informing him of the Gathering of Legal Eagles to be held today.

If the Police has decided to depart from  its conventional practice and now wants a specific application for a police permit, it should give adequate notice to allow the new procedure to be complied with and not to spring a surprise at the last minute.

The deplorable police attitude and conduct today shows an ugly face of what a police state will be like, where the rights of the ordinary people will just be arbitrarily trampled upon.

I am shocked by the attitude shown by the OCPD Zainal Abidin, who was in personal charge of the operations today.

I had agreed to call off the meeting and Zainal had given me the hailer to announce to the crowd present the cancellation of the meeting and to ask them to disperse, but before I could say a few words, Zainal suddenly and  rudely snatched the hailer from me, creating an immediate eruption of tensions and exchange of heated words.  The OCPD further aggravated the situation when he openly flaunted his powers by publicly arresting  a member of the public,  Ng Shin Cheong, who was outraged by his rude and unseemly conduct.

There is no doubt that the OCPD singly created tensions by his most unwarratned provocative attitude and conduct when the atmosphere was most calm and orderly. Zainal should be sent to crisis management courses to defuse rather than create tensions which do not exist.

In Jakarta recently, five thousand students occupied the Indonesian Parliament to express the people’s wishes for political reforms and an end to the Suharto regime of KKN, namely corruption, collusion and nepotism.

We do not have 5,000 people illegally occupying any public building, but a few hundred lawyers concerned about Malaysia’s future and who want to have an intellectual discussion about the far-reaching implications of the Lim Guan Eng case on the civil society in Malaysia, particular from the aspects of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

The high-handed police action today has further highlighted the importance of a national campaign for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, for there would be no such police incident if there is justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in the country.

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told Malaysian students in London on Thursday night that he had been questioned about the Lim Guan Eng case when he visited the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. This is because of the manifest injustice of the Lim Guan Eng case, where a MP who went to the aid of the weak and defenceless, in this case a 15-year-old underaged girl to protect her honour, human rights and women rights has been sentenced to 36 months’ jail, the girl detained while the mighty and powerful accused went scotfree.

Malaysian government leaders are going to be asked more questions not only in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, but other countries as well, with the deplorable police action today, where discussion of injustice by lawyers in the confined space of a hotel seems to be regarded as such a grave threat to the security and stability of the government of the day as to justify such an excessive demonstration of police force today!

Don’t the police have better things to do than to come in such massive numbers to the Federal Hotel today to deal with a peaceful gathering of law-abiding citizens?

I deplore the Police action today and I call on the Police to review and reconsider their role in society.  It is most shocking that the Malaysian Police are so insensitive about public rights and aspirations that they have conducted themselves this morning as to give the impression that  Malaysia is  worse than Indonesia.

As custodians of law and order, the Police must be ever conscious that they must project the image and conduct themselves as the friend and not the enemy  of the people, that they are sensitive to the people’s aspirations for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance and not an obstacle and hindrance to these aspirations.

I have already told Zainal that we are calling off the Gathering of Legal Eagles today  and everything would have ended amicably without any fuss if the OCPD had been able to handle the issue with tact and finesse.   Zainal and the police action have now caused a blot to the national image in the world.

As I have also told Zainal,  we would be applying for a police permit for the Gathering of Legal Eagles  to be held in the immediate future.  I hope we can expect co-operation from the Police in this regard and I will make further announcements on the matter tomorrow.

(31/5/98)


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