Mahathir’s likening of Suqiu Committee to the extremist and fanatical Al-Ma’unah movement outrageous and ominous - signifying a prelude to a second Operation Lalang crackdown against democracy and human rights

- Penang DAP Merdeka Walk

by Lim Kit Siang 

(Penang, Thursday): The 43rd National Day message of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad likening the Malaysian Chinese Organisations' Election Appeals Committee (Suqiu) to the Al-Ma’unah movement  and to those of the "communists in the past" for "fanning racial sentiments" is both outrageous and ominous.

It is outrageous because it is a downright unfair, completely baseless and most defamatory comparison.  How can Suqiu be condemned as "fanning racial sentiments" when MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and SUPP Deputy President, Datuk Law Hieng Ding had publicly endorsed it in a joint media conference on  August 17, 1999 as representing "universal principles accepted by all"  and it was subsequently presented to and accepted  by  the Cabinet on September 22, 1999 as announced by  Liong Sik in the post-Cabinet meeting the same day,   as reported by Berita Harian (23/9/1999) in a report under the heading  "Kabinet terima petisyen kaum Cina"?

How can the Suqiu Committee be compared to the extremist and fanatical Al-Ma’unah movement which had brutally tortured and killed two Malaysians after the Grik arms heists last month when the Committee had never resorted either to force or even a demonstration and had a standing invitation to UMNO Youth to a dialogue on Suqiu which had been exploited by UMNO Youth to create a synthetic political and communal crisis.

Mahathir’s National Day message is ominous because it seems to signify a prelude to a second Operation Lalang crackdown against democracy and human rights, with mass arrests of members of the Opposition and dissenters in the civil society on a variety of trumped-up charges as happened during the first Operation Lalang crackdown in October 1987.

Immediately after UMNO Youth was allowed to stage an unruly, abusive and gangsterish UMNO Youth demonstration at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on August 19, 2000, where Inflammatory and racist placards were  displayed, reporters  abused and assaulted and  threats uttered  to "burn down the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall", I was visited by a deja vu as I had the presentimen that the country was seeing a replay of the events which led to the Operation Lalang in 1987.

In my media statement of August 20, 2000, I pointedly asked whether Malaysians are  seeing a repetition of this dark episode in the nation’s history of democracy and human rights and heading towards another Operation Lalang.

Mahathir’s  National Day message is one of the most unfortunate to have been made by him or any Prime Minister, because it was studded with untruths, such as:

When Mahathir appealed to "all extremist quarters from these two races to stop playing with racial fire", while this appeal is fully endorsed, Mahathir has to convince Malaysians that  this is not the case of "the thief shouting thief" or the arsonist shouting fire as happened in the run-up to Operation Lalang in 1987.

Nothing is clearer than Mahathir’s National Day message of his temptation to launch another mass arrests under the Internal Security Act, especially his concoction of the designs of "foreign powers" to "recolonise" Malaysia with the declaration that "at a time when national security and peace was under threat,  the least fear of the government was to be ridiculed by the foreign media and  the world powers".

If Mahathir is really sincere in believing that there are "foreign powers" who are bent to "recolonise" Malaysia, is he prepared to name them and rally Malaysians to counter  these "foreign powers" with evil designs?

It will indeed be a sad and tragic day for Malaysia if there is another massive crackdown against democracy and human rights not because of any real threat to national security and peace, although the  political and moral authority of Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional government is at an all-time low solely because of its bad policies, misjudgements and misgovernance.

Mahathir  personally has little to lose in launching a second crackdown against democracy and human rights, but Malaysia and future generations will have to pay  a very heavy price to appear in the international scene as another rogue state in the league of the Myanmar military junta  - not only setting back democracy and nation-building, but Malaysia’s Vision 2020 to become a developed nation and to transform into an information society and knowledge-economy.

DAP reiterates its call for a a summit meeting of top political leaders of all political parties in a closed session to defuse the escalating racial and religious polarisation in the country and for the nation to concentrate on the task of sustained economic recovery and propel the country into the information society and knowledge- economy.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman