Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim cases sum up what is terribly wrong with the
system of justice, democracy and human rights and why Barisan’s political
hegemony must be broken by denying it two-thirds parliamentary majority
(Kuching, Tuesday): A year ago, two
events which took place within ten days of each other, set in motion a
chain of events which has changed the political landscape in Malaysia,
both short-term and even more important, long-term.
- Kuching DAP’s "Guan Eng’s Return with Honour" Dinner
by Lim Kit Siang
On August 25, 1998, DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota
Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, was sent to Kajang Prison to start his two concurrent
18-month jail sentences when the Federal Court rejected his appeals
against conviction and sentence under the Sedition Act and Printing Presses
and Publications Act.
Guan Eng was jailed not because he had committed any heinous crime of
theft, armed robbery, arson, rape, murder, corruption or criminal breach
of trust but because he was courageously discharging his duties and responsibilities
as an elected representative of the people in the defence of the honour,
dignity, women rights and human rights of an underaged 15-year-old girl
victim of statutory rape.
Guan Eng’s incarceration and disqualification as an elected Member of
Parliament and disenfranchisement of his civic rights as a Malaysian citizen
created nation-wide dismay, shock, grief and outrage at a system of justice
that was so manifestly unjust.
The far-reaching political, economic, social and nation-building consequences
of Guan Eng’s second loss of personal liberty include:
CONSCIENTISE more Malaysians to the urgent need for political change
to close the gap between law and justice in Malaysia to ensure that courts
of law are courts of justice and not courts of injustice;
REAFFIRM the spirit of sacrifice of DAP leaders who are prepared
to stand up for the rights of the people and the nation, regardless of
personal consequences, as illustrated by the long list of other DAP leaders
who been detained under the Internal Security Act or persecuted under other
laws of the country in the history of the party.
PROVIDE the first living example of a new Malaysian of a political
leader who is prepared to lay down his liberty in the defence of the human
rights of a Malaysian of another race, religion and gender, in this
case an underaged Malay schoolgirl; and
BRIDGE the great racial and religious divides in plural Malaysia
and become the focal point of probably the first national movement in the
history of Malaysia which could rally Malaysians, regardless of race,
religion, class, gender or age behind the common cause of "Justice For
This is why the past 11 days have witnessed an unprecedented political
phenomenon - where Malaysians of all races, whether Chinese, Malays, Indians,
Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, men and women, young
and old, poured out to give Guan Eng a tumultous reception wherever he
went since he walked out of Kajang Prison on August 25 - a welcome given
to a national hero and not a lowly common criminal.
This marks a double coming-of-age, of the Malaysian nation-building
process and the DAP’s political mission.
No single event in the political arena in the 42-year nation-building
process as the patent injustice of Guan Eng’s incarceration and persecution
has brought Malaysians, regardless of race and religion, closer together
to realise their commonality as Malaysian citizens and human beings,
who must unite against injustices and oppression to build a better society
for themselves, their children, and their children’s children.
Similarly, no single event in the 33-year history of DAP has symbolised
the party’s commitment to build a Malaysia for all Malaysians, where every
Malaysian citizen, regardless of race, religion, gender or sex is
entitled to the fundamental rights of justice, freedom, development, progress
In the past three decades, UMNO propaganda and controlled-mass
media had adopted the colonial tactics of "divide and rule" and poisoned
the minds of the Malay society by depicting the DAP as a Chinese chauvinist,
anti-Malay, anti-Islam political party.
Guan Eng’s going to jail in the defence of the honour, dignity,
women rights and human rights of a 15-year-old Malay girl victim of statutory
rape, when no single UMNO, let alone MCA, Gerakan, MIC political leader
was prepared to take up her cause for justice, is a powerful debunking
of the three-decade UMNO propaganda and lie that DAP is anti-Malay or anti-Islam.
In fact, the spontaneous and tumultous reception given to Guan Eng
wherever he went throughout the country by Malaysians, including the Malays,
is testimony that ordinary Malaysians are more Malaysian-minded and justice-conscious
than the UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders!
The second event was the travesty of justice perpetrated on the former
Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and heir-designate as the Prime
Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was summarily sacked
from government on Sept. 2, expelled from UMNO on Sept. 3, detained on
Sept. 20 and assaulted to within an inch of his life by the then Inspector-General
of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, giving Anwar the notorious "black eye" which
became a badge of national and international shame for Malaysia,
and the prosecution and incarceration of Anwar Ibrahim which scandalised
the nation and the world.
Anwar’s trial and tribulations was another traumatic political
event which created a sea-change in political attitudes among the
people, particularly the Malay society, making more Malaysians realise
for the first time the rot in our democratic society and national institutions,
which had been camouflaged by strong continuous growth of the economy in
the past decade, such as:
The subversion of key institutions of government and the state to become
subservient creatures of the Executive, and in particular the Prime Minister,
whether Parliament, the judiciary, the civil service, the Attorney-General’s
Chambers, the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Police, Bank Negara or the mass
KKN in Malaysia - cronyism, corruption and nepotism. The government’s
deafeningly eerie silence to the four police reports lodged by Anwar Ibrahim
since July 9, 1999, backed with documentary support, about corruption and
abuses of power at the highest levels of political leadership, naming
the Prime Minister himself, the first Finance Minister, the Minister for
International Trade and Industry, the two highest law officers in
the land including the Attorney-General, the former Malacca Chief Minister,
involving scandals like the Perwaja scandal, which on December 1995
suffered accumulated losses of RM2,985 million and chalked up RM6,939
million in liabilities. The total failure and inability of the government
to address Anwar’s four police reports is a standing indictment of the
lack of accountability, transparency and integrity of the Barisan Nasional
The worst crisis of confidence in the judiciary in Malaysian history, which
is even worse than the judiciary crisis in 1988, when the Lord President,
Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges were sacked when the judiciary
lost its battle against the Prime Minister to safeguard its judicial independence.
Malaysians had hoped that a decade after the 1988 judicial crisis, the
judiciary would have recovered its independence and regained public confidence
in its independence from executive interference. But the reverse has taken
place. For the first time in Malaysian history, the integrity of
the highest judicial officers in the land have also been questioned and
challenged, as in the Asian Wall Street Journal defamation
court proceeding on Monday, 30th August 1999.
Loss of public confidence in the independence and professionalism of the
Attorney-General's Chambers in failing to become an agent of justice but
has become an engine of oppression of the human rights and democratic liberties
of the people.
Lack of accountability, transparency and responsibility whether in the
bail-out of crony companies; the forced merger of the 21 commercial banks,
25 finance companies and 12 merchant banks into six banking groups;
mega-projects like the tallest building in the world, the most grandiose/grotesque
Prime Minister’s office and residence which would put the White House and
No. 10 Downing Street in shame, at the expense of the people’s basic needs
in housing, health and education so as to satisfy "a shorty’s ego";
government negligence, ineptitude and irresponsibility in the misdiagnosis
and mishandling of the Nipah virus epidemic disaster causing at least 105
deaths and the ruin of the RM2.5 billion pig rearing industry without proper
compensation to the affected pig farmers or the undemocratic abolition
of the South India Labour Fund totally without consultation and in utter
disregard of the views and interests of estate workers or the Indian community!
The Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim cases sum up what is terribly wrong
with Malaysia - the rank injustices; rampant corruption and abuses of power;
suppression of human rights; lack of democracy and misgovernance
of the Barisan Nasional government.
These national ills stem from two basic causes:
The political hegemony of Barisan Nasional as a result of uninterrupted
two-thirds parliamentary majority of the ruling coalition in the previous
nine general elections in the past 42 years.
The 18-year Prime Ministership of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad which
has resulted in the unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of
one person, through the subordination of all the key institutions of government
and state and the usurpation of the powers of the Legislature and Judiciary
resulting in the destruction of the doctrine of separation of powers in
It is unthinkable that the Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim cases of injustices
would have occurred during the tenure of the first three Prime Ministers
of Malaysia, namely Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn,
who have a greater understanding and respect of principles of the
rule of law and the independence of the judiciary as well as the
doctrine of the separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislature
and the Judiciary.
The challenge facing Malaysians is whether they could break the political
hegemony of the Barisan Nasional to restore justice, freedom, democracy
and good governance.
Although It is not going to be easy, a firm start must be made in the
coming general election to break the mould of political hegemony of the
Barisan Nasional as a result of uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary
majority of the ruling coalition in nine general elections in 42 years.
The denial and ending of the Barisan Nasional two-thirds parliamentary
majority will not only break the mould of political hegemony of the Barisan
Nasional, unleashing of suppressed creative forces and energies of democracy,
it will serve as a warning that unless the Barisan Nasional is more sensitive
to the aspirations of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good
governance, the Barisan Nasional would be toppled in the subsequent election,
whether 2,004 or 2,005.
While there are Malaysians and political parties which believe that
the Barisan Nasional could be toppled in the next election, it would be
wise not to be carried away by such exuberance when the denial of
the Barisan Nasional's uninterrupted two-thirds majority would itself already
be a tall order.
DAP believes that the denial and ending of the Barisan Nasional two-thirds
majority in the next election is possible and achievable with the combined
Opposition winning some 70 to 75 seats, with the DAP aiming to win 25 to
30 Parliamentary seats.
If the Barisan Nasional can still win another landslide victory after
Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim injustices as well as the long list of abuses
of power and violation of human rights and democratic freedoms, Malaysians
must expect another dark age and a repetition of Operation Lalang on an
even greater scale than in 1988, where over 106 opposition leaders, trade
unionists, social activists were detained under the Internal Security Act
for threatening not national security but the political security of the
Barisan Nasional leadership.
*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary
Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member
of Parliament for Tanjong