Barisan Alternative leadership meeting  next week will consider a five-prong response to the latest  arrest and prosecution of Opposition leaders and activists

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in Segamat  yesterday that serious efforts were  needed to restore the  confidence of the people in the Barisan Nasional (BN) government and  Umno.

He said that lessons must be learnt from the results of the last general election.

He said: "Even though we all acknowledge that the BN has won, there was deterioration in many constituencies. The question is why."

It is very sad that the heir-apparent to  the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is still groping for an answer as to the reasons for UMNO suffering its worst electoral setback in party history in the recent general election.

A greater misfortune than UMNO’s suffering its worst electoral setback in party history is its inability  to read correctly the reasons for such a electoral debacle.

Abdullah does not have to go very far to look for the answer to his question. He should heed the views of  his colleague, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who  had said that what the people wanted was not just physical development but also freedom.

Tengku Razaleigh spoke out against banning the Harakah and made a very  pertinent point when he said: "Some people feel it is an insult to their intelligence when reading mainstream newspapers".

The question is whether Abdullah can provide the leadership and example to other UMNO leaders not to give way to  visceral reactions  to UMNO’s worst electoral performance in history by looking for scapegoats and  striking out at the Opposition and dissent, but to  respond positively to the aspirations of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

After the general election, the Home Ministry cracked down on the circulation of Harakah with daily reports of seizures and confiscations, with Abdullah claiming that such actions were lawful and democratic.

The Deputy Prime Minister is wrong as such actions, though lawful in a very technical sense are not democratic, fair or just.  This is a case where the law is being used to stifle freedom of expression and in its widest sense, constitute a violation of  the rule of law.

Editorial and feature writers in the mainstream media churn out articles like the one in the Sun today under the heading “Harakah must come down to earth and obey the law” but why is it none of them has the intellectual honesty and moral courage to demand that the law must be democratised to allow Harakah, Rocket and publications of political parties free circulation to the public, subject to the ordinary laws of the land?  Why is Abdullah leading the obscurantist campaign against Harakah, which is the modern-version of book-burning of the dark ages of human history?

Abdullah should realise that the recent  Barisan Nasional crackdown, involving the arrest and prosecution of DAP Deputy Chairman and former five-term MP for Jelutong Karpal Singh, Parti Keadilan Nasional  Vice President Marina Yusoff,
KeADILan Youth chief Mohamed  Ezam Mohd Noor, Harakah editor  Zulkifly Sulong and Harakah printer Cheah Lim Thye are only alienating more people from the government  as they mark a massive assault on the rule of law,  press freedom, the right to information, fundamental liberties and democracy

More and more, Malaysia has increasingly become the object of condemnation in the  international civil society.

The Barisan Alternative leadership meeting  next week will consider a five-prong response to the latest  arrests and prosecution of Opposition leaders and activists, namely:

  1. the court battle.
  2. protect fundamental liberties and democratic freedoms which have come under grave threat as a result of the  prosecution of Karpal, Marina, Ezam, Zulkifly and  Cheah.
  3. uphold the rule of law which has come under a new  assault with the arrest and prosecution of Karpal Singh for the  unprecedented charge in Malaysia and the Commonwealth for what he said in the course of defence of Anwar Ibrahim in court.
  4. protect press freedom.
  5. assert the right to information in an information society.

DAP will suggest a general campaign to uphold democracy and three specific campaigns to uphold the rule of law, defend press freedom and protect the right to information.

DAP has formed a “Support  Karpal, Uphold Rule of Law" Campaign Committee headed by DAP National Vice Chairman Lim Guan Eng  to conscientise  Malaysians on the need for them to stand up  to close the widening gap between law and justice in Malaysia.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman