DAP opposes the use of ISA to deal with cyber rumour-mongering as there are adequate laws to deal  with it


Media  Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP is opposed to the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) allowing detention without trial  to deal with cyber rumour-mongering as there are adequate laws to deal with it.

The Police announced yesterday that two persons were picked up under the ISA for spreading rumours of riots in the city over the Internet last week.

The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, said the man in his 20s and the woman in her 30s will be held for 60 days under Section 73 of the ISA  and that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has identified several other suspects and they are expected to be picked up soon.

While fully supporting severe police action against those who had used the Internet to spread rumours and create panic like what happened in Klang Valley last Friday, the Police must not go overboard in their hunt for the culprits.

The Police in particular should always be mindful of one of the Bills of Guarantees of the Multimedia Super Corridor, that there would be no censorship of the Internet - and it should not  harrass or  cause fear among decent and law-abiding netizens who might have circulated emails of the rumours in order to seek clarification or information.

Rahim Noor’s denial that rumours originated from outside the country, an allegation which was made with all seriousness by the Information Minister, Datuk Mohamad Rahmat, is most welcome as Malaysia does not need another outburst of xenophobia on the Internet rumours based on rumours from the Information Minister.

The Malaysia-Singapore relations is going through a very rough patch, and although the DAP supports the Malaysian government on the issue of the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) checkpoint at Tanjong Pagar railway station in Singapore, no responsible Malaysian can approve any rash or irresponsible escalation of bad blood between the two countries, for this cannot be for the good of either Malaysia or Singapore.

The 13-month long economic crisis, which appears set to get worse before there could be an economic turnaround, with full economic recovery now four to five years down the road,  should bring South East Asian countries closer together to work out a common strategy.

Last Sunday, Dr. Hans Koeschler, professor of political philosophy at the University of Innsbruck in Australia, advocated regional currencies as a counter to the volatility caused by currency traders and as an alternative and viable currency to trade other than the US dollar.

But how could the countries in the region sit down to co-operate and develop a common counter-strategy in the Asian economic turmoils, when relations as those of Malaysia and Singapore, had never been so bad for two decades?

Malaysia and Singapore leaders should draw back from the brink of confrontation and promote spaces and channels to allow the restarting of dialogues between the two countries to restore good neighbourly relations.

(12/8/98)


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