In March 1998, a White Paper entitled “Towards Preserving National Security” was tabled in Parliament to justify the Operation Lalang detentions.
As Sdr. Lim Kit Siang submitted to the government in his rebuttal of the White Paper on behalf of the DAP detainees from the Kamunting Detention Centre at the time:
“The White Paper on ‘Towards Preserving National Security’ is not a security document in the strict sense, but a political document to justify the DAP detentions…
“It is, pure and simple, a political document to justify the abuse of the ISA against the constitutional, democratic and loyal Opposition in the country. The White Paper adopted wholesale the political vocabulary and bias of the ruling parties against the DAP when, on strictly security matters, the security establishment of the country should transcend party political considerations and preoccupations.
“It is precisely because the White Paper is a political document, and not a security document, that it is the most powerful proof of the political nature of the detention of the seven DAP MPs, which have nothing whatsoever to do with security considerations.”
Is the government’s failure to produce a White Paper on the detention of the reformasi six, namely Ezam Mohd. Nor, Saari Sungib, Tian Chua, Hishamuddin Rais, Dr. Badrul Amin, Lokman Adam or on the alleged KMM because the government knows that it has no convincing case to justify these ISA detentions?
All over the world, as an immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, human rights and civil liberties are in retreat and authoritarianism is on the ascendance.
In the United States, a panicked Congress has approved US President Bush’s sweeping anti-terrorism legislation that civil liberties groups said could violate the Constitution and basic rights.
The new anti-terrorism law greatly expands federal agencies' authority to conduct surveillance and wiretapping operations and secret searches against terrorist suspects while reducing judicial oversight. Many of these laws have been resisted for years by the civil liberty lobby, which has been in retreat since the terror attacks on US cities on September 11.
Other countries have also taken advantage of the September 11 terror attacks to introduce far-reaching measures which will expand the powers of the state at the expense of judicial oversight and key democratic freedoms.
In Malaysia, the authorities will be emboldened by an increasingly authoritarian
atmosphere in the international scene to crack down even harder against
legitimate dissent and the democtratic opposition, not only in casting
wider the dragnet of ISA detentions but in incarcerating the detainees
for a longer period than originally intended before the September 11 terrorist
On the occasion of the 14th anniversay of the infamous Operation Lalang, we call on the government to immediately release all ISA detainees and not to exploit the September 11 terror attacks to justify their continued arbitrary detention or to detain them even longer than originally intended.
We also call on the government to issue a White Paper on the recent spate of ISA detentions, one on the reformasi six, particularly in view of its allegation of their involvement in a militant conspiracy for the violent overthrow of the elected government, and another one on KMM, whether standing for Kumpulan Mujaheedin Malaysia or Kumpulan Militant Malaysia, especially with the clarification by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that KMM has no connection whatseover with the suspected mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network.
We also call on the government to respond to the national and international cocnerns about the health of the reformasi six, who have lost weight and are suffering from various health problems such as blood in the urine, high blood pressure and migraines and who have been boycotting prison food since September in protest of their treatment.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should order an immediate halt of the maltreatment meted out to the detainees, such as solitary confinement in tiny windowless cells, denial of access to lawyers for two months and intensive interrogation which amounted to psychological torture.
Suhakam on its part should discharge its statutory functions under the
Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 “to visit places of
detention” to ensure that the detainees are provided immediately
with nutritious food, appropriate medical care and access to independent
Lim Kit Siang
National Chairman DAP/former Parliametnary Opposition Leader/former MP
National Deputy Chairman DAP/former MP
Dr. Tan Seng Giaw
National Vice Chairman DAP/MP for Kepong
Lim Guan Eng
Lau Dak Kee