Malaysian Police should learn a few lessons
from the global demonstrations by millions and millions of peaceful
protesters against US war against Iraq to allow for greater freedom of
speech and assembly in Malaysia
by Lim Kit Siang
The Malaysian Police should learn a few lessons from the global
demonstrations by millions and millions of peaceful protestors against US
war against Iraq in the past 24 hours to allow for greater freedom of speech
and assembly in Malaysia.
The Malaysian Police should even learn from the United States and United
Kingdom, the two countries whose governments are terribly out of sync with
world mainstream opinion against US war in Iraq, where millions of people
are allowed to demonstrate their protest despite both countries under high
alert for terrorist attacks.
America was under a week-long Code Orange "high risk" of "imminent terrorist
attack" status, with anxious Americans stockpiling food and water while
England underwent a five-day terror alert , marked by closure and evacuation
of airports - but these heightened security alerts did not become excuses to
clamp down on civil liberties to prevent the holding of the biggest-ever
anti-war demonstrations in these two countries as well as in other nations
The Friday warning issued by the Malaysian police that it would take stern
action against those taking part in an anti-war demonstration in front of
the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur organized by NGOs and opposition political
parties yesterday was most uncalled for, unwarranted and should not be
allowed to recur.
The protesters yesterday in the capitals and metropolitan centres in
countries whose governments either advocate or support war against Iraq
reached or passed the million mark - most notably in New York, London, Rome,
Madrid, Barcelona, with some 500,000 people in Berlin and 300,000 in Paris
to join the anti-war global rally.
Although the Kuala Lumpur police eventually allowed the anti-war
demonstration in KL yesterday to be held, its attempt to abort, hamper or
restrict the campaign by Malaysians to join in the historic global anti-war
rally by millions and millions of people in over 350 cities worldwide was a
blot on the record of the Malaysian police.
The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai, should cause a full
review of police responses to such peaceful demonstrations, in the light of
the global anti-war demonstrations running into the million-people mark in
New York, London, Rome, Madrid and Barcelona, as well as taking fully into
account the public call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad to non-government organizations throughout the world to moblise the
people to demonstrate and influence their governments to protest against the
possibility of a US-led attack on Iraq.
The Malaysian Police must be agile, nimble and progressive enough to respond
to the fast-changing global scenario and international expectations, so that
their outmoded security complexes and mentalities do not undermine
Malaysia's international standing and credibility by projecting the image
that the Malaysian government practises double standards which exhort NGOs
throughout the world to mobilize their people to hold peaceful
demonstrations against US war in Iraq but forbid Malaysian NGOs and the
Malaysian people to do the very same thing.
Nor should the police help to create the impression, both nationally and
internationally, that demonstrations against the US war in Iraq in Malaysia
is highly selective, regulated and orchestrated - only permissible if they
are organized by officially-sanctioned entities like UMNO Youth and other
"approved" NGOs but frowned upon as "trouble makers" if they are not
organised through "official channels" but by people's movements to express
spontaneous popular aspirations against war and to demand peaceful solution
to the Iraqi disarmament question.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National