The use of the ISA to detain student activist Khairul Anuar shows that on his 20th year of premiership, Mahathir is prepared to outdo previous excesses, including the 1987 Operasi Lalang, to consolidate his power

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The use of the Internal Security Act to detain student activist Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainuddin today is most deplorable and shows that on his twentieth year of premiership, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is prepared to outdo previous excesses, including the 1987 Operasi Lalang, to consolidate his power.

In fact, the ISA was never used against student activists in his 20 years as Prime Minister, but only in the seventies when Mahathir was the Education Minister but this record has now been sullied.

It would be most unfortunate if  the use of the ISA against Khairul marks another crackdown against dissenting students and other activists and is one  result of Friday’s University of Malaya Dewan Tunku Chancellor (DTC) fire although the cause of the fire is still unknown.

The University of Malay Vice Chancellor Datuk Anuar Zaini Mohd Zain and government leaders have warned the people against jumping to conclusions as to the cause of the fire, but this has not stopped many aspiring UMNO politicians from  pointing  their accusing fingers at certan groups as the arsonists.

DAP deplores the Dewan Tunku Chancellor fire which destroyed an university and national heritage, and want the culprits, regardless of their association, to be brought to justice; but we do not want the fire to be used as an excuse to create a panicky atmosphere to justify a major crackdown on human rights in the country in the same way that the 1933 Reichstag fire was used by Hitler to create a national crisis in Germany and justify the onslaught on civil liberties resulting in the rise of Nazi despotism.

It is a matter of grave concern that there has been been a  significant  increase of incidents where student and other activists who dissent from the establishment have become targets of harrassments by the authorities, particularly in the various student campuses in the country.

Has the government launched a campaign to weed out all dissent in the institutions of higher learning in the country?


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman