Mahathir - the most unpopular Prime Minister in Malaysia as well as the most unpopular in his 20 years as Prime Minister

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Utusan Malaysia should stop its irresponsible and anti-national journalism in trying to create a scare scenario which can only undermine investor confidence in the country.

Yesterday, it carried the front-page headline "Tentera sedia bantu polis - Sekiranya keamanan negara terancam oleh demonstrasi jalanan" which quoted the Chief of Armed Forces, General Tan Sri Mohd. Zahidi Zainuddin as proclaiming that the armed forces would not hesitate to assist the police forces if the nation's peace and the people's security are threatened by massive demonstrations which is planned by certain quarters.

Mohd Zahidi went on to condemn demonstrations as unhealthy action which threatens the security of the nation and people.

The armed forces, he said, would always monitor current developments in the country and if urgent, the armed forces would not hesitate to "intervene" ("campur tangan").

This is a most irresponsible and anti-national journalism as it is calculated to create a scare scenario to give the impression that peace and security in the country has become very  fragile and raised three questions:

  1. Is the country faced with a crisis of  peace and security, marked by massive unrests and social instability?
  1. Has the  police ability to handle the peace and security of the country come under doubt?
  1. Is the country threatened  with such massive unrests and social instability and the police ability to handle peace and security come under such grave doubt that the question of the  armed forces intervening in upholding peace and security has become a real issue with the chief of  the armed forces finding it appropriate to trespass on police responsibilities as to give comments on the subject?
The Utusan Malaysia report today raises a fourth question, as to whether the armed forces could intervene ("campur tangan") in internal law and order issues on its own decision and judgement without request from the police or directive  from the Cabinet?

It was Mingguan Malaysia which carried the front-page report on Sunday that led to the police arrest  of Parti Keadilan National Youth chief Ezam Mohamad on the ground that Ezam had said that he was launching street demonstrations every day to topple the government - which had been denied by Ezam.

Utusan Malaysia is clearly trying to create a scare situation in the country giving the impression that chaos is about  to replace peace and security in the country so as to justify high-handed and repressive police action against the Barisan Alternative leaders, members and supporters.

This is most irresponsible and anti-national, as in the age of instant communications in the era of IT, such irresponsible creation of a scary scenario in the country to the extent that army intervention to maintain peace and security has become a serious option, could only frighten off investors and undermine Malaysia's investment climate.

The country is not on the threshhold of a people's uprising, threatening violence and chaos to overthrow the elected government led by Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, although he is now  the most unpopular Prime Minister in the country and most unpopular in his 20 years as Prime Minister. In fact, he is probably the most unpopular UMNO President even among UMNO members in UMNO history - never having to face party elections since the formation of UMNO Baru in 1988.

However, the Barisan Alternative remains committed to the democratic and constitutional process and there has never been any campaign or plan to topple the Barisan Nasional government by street protests.

The DAP has made it an essential creed of our political struggle in the past 35 years that we are committed to political change through the peaceful and democratic process and not by any violent or unconstitutional means.

The government on the other hand should respect the fundamental rights of Malaysians to the freedom of speech, assembly and association and should take note that Suhakam is drawing up a code of guidelines whereby peaceful assemblies could be conducted by Malaysians to express their concerns and grievances to the government in an orderly, peaceful and democratic manner.

Suhakam should take note of the irresponsible and anti-national journalism of Utusan Malaysia and its attempt to create a scare scenario to justify new repression and even more massive violation of human rights of Malaysians.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman