It was precisely for these same goals that the DAP joined up with PAS, KeAdilan and PRM before the 1999 general election to form the Barisan Alternative to bring about a paradigm shift in Malaysian politics to break the political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional through the deprivation of its uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority to unleash political, economic, social and civil society forces which had hitherto been locked up by undemocratic and arbitrary laws and regulations.
DAP had warned before the 1999 general election that if
Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Barisan Nasional succeeded in retaining
two-thirds parliamentary majority despite the most serious challenge to
its power base in the nation’s history, it could usher “a new dark age”
with greater repression and injustices with scenarios like:
Unfortunately, many of these predictions have come to pass, although there is a surprise and welcome development with regard to the judiciary, arising from the unexpected appointment of the new Chief Justice not because of but despite the Prime Minister - although how far there could be a speedy and sustained turnaround in the restoration of confidence in the judiciary has still to be seen as Tan Sri Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah’s tenure is only for two years before his retirement.
The last 21 months after the 1999 general election have seen Malaysia increasingly taking on the features of a police state, where there is not only the most justifiable blanket-ban on political ceramahs, party anniversary dinners by Opposition parties which had been held peacefully for the past few decades are suddenly regarded as “security threats”, proving the correctness of the strictures of the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) of the mindset among politicians that “assemblies are intrisincally dangerous and liable to become a threat to national security or public order”. As a result, the freedom of expression and assembly of Malaysians as entrenched in the Malaysian Constitution have been reduced to the right to eat but not to talk - despite the recent recommendations of Suhakam to uphold the citizens’ right to unrestricted and legal peaceful assemblies, a total change in the attitude of authorities and far-reaching amendments to the Police Act.
Although there has not been human rights crackdown on the scale of Operation Lalang in 1987, the detention-without-trial Internal Security Act had been invoked three times since the ominous speech by the Prime Minister in Parliament in early April when introducing the Third Outline Perspective Plan that the government was prepared to break international norms on human rights and democracy, purportedly to protect the nation’s security when in fact, it is the security of UMNO and the Barisan Nasional which is being protected.
Yesterday, the police pursued the theory of international terrorism when it announced that five people, including two Indonesians with permanent resident status, are wanted by police in the probe into Kumpulan Militan Malaysia KMM) in connection with gun-running racket, armed robberies, the attack on the Guar Chempedak police station and murder of former Lunas Assemblyman Dr Joe Fernandez.
DAP condemns militant Islam or armed extremism of any kind as a threat to the very social fabric of our nation and our democratic way of life, and they must be opposed by all right-thinking Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.
However, Malaysians do not want a repeat of past experiences where the government was more interested in exploiting political party gain by hurling baseless allegations against the Opposition - and this is why the government should not resort to detention-without-trial laws like the ISA but should charge the accused concerned in court where an public trial could be held and the goverment case subject to the closest public scrutiny.
DAP is very concerned about the problem of militant Islam, especially if there are international terrorist links, and want it to be treated as a national problem transcending political party differences.
An all-party round-table conference should be convened to reach a national consensus to deal with the problem of militant Islam so that it would not be used by the government as a “football” in the political arena against the Opposition.
This has become very pertinent as the government seems to be escalating its political campaign against the Opposition even at the international level, as evident in the Bernama report yesterday giving prominence to a scurrilous attack on Anwar Ibrahim in Washington Times by Amy Ridenour, president of the National Centre for Public Research, touted as “a non-partisan American think-tank”.
Accusing Anwar of having close links with radical Islamic fundamentalists, Amy warned that the United States could be fooled the third time if it supports efforts by Anwar to destabilise the Malaysian government - the first two occasions being the 444-day hostage crisis in the US Embassy in Teheran during Khomeini’s rule in Iran and the Afghanistan lesson where the Taliban took power after the US poured millions of dollars and vital intelligence to the anti-Soviet Mujahidin.
In the first place, the National Centre for Public Research is not a “non-partisan American think-tank” but a reactionary, 'free market/conservative', Reagan/Bush campaign operation and the Washington Times where the commentary appeared is owned by the moonies, or the unification church, as a bastion of American conservatism and the Republican right.
Malaysians are entitled to know whether Amy Ridenour and the National Centre for Public Research have been hired in a campaign to win the hearts of Washington, whether taxpayers’ monies are involved in the retention of American lobby groups to provide “sweeteners” to pave the way for a meeting between the Prime Minister and President Bush, and whether the KMM and the militant Islam issues are being used to win the ear of Washington.
What is mind-boggling is that before the 1999 general election, Anwar was accused of being a CIA agent, based on the statutory declaration of the former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Abdul Murad Khalid, and now Anwar is being accused of being an Islamic fundamentalist in the league of the Talibans. The government should decide which one of the two allegations it wants to hurl against Anwar, as Anwar cannot be a CIA agent and an Islamic fundamentalist one and the same time. In any event, it would appear that Anwar is regarded as a handy issue to try to effect a rapprochment in the relations between Kuala Lumpur and Washington, and in particular, to arrange for Mahathir to meet President Bush.