DAP to lodge a formal protest against Suhakam Deputy Chairman for not protecting human rights and justifying opposition to lifting of the 25-year ban on public rallies by falsely linking rallies with May 13 riots
- at the Defend Secular Malaysia campaign at SS2, Petaling Jaya
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The spectre of the May 13, 1969 riots was again raised recently to justify opposition to the proposal by the Election Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman for the lifting of the 25-year ban on public rallies in the next general election.
Both the Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia carried editorials falsely linking the May 13 riots to public rallies, claiming that public rallies had not been allowed since 1969 while political leaders like the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad warned of the “May 13” dangers if public rallies are allowed.
What is most shocking is the statement by the Deputy Suhakam Chairman, Tan Sri Harun Hashim, also falsely linking the May 13 riots to public rallies, when he stressed that the security aspects should be first given consideration before public rallies are allowed in the 11th general election to avoid the repetition of the bloody 1969 racial riots. (Utusan Malaysia 20.9.03)
Suhakam has been specially set up by Parliament and entrusted with the statutory duty to protect and promote human rights, and Malaysians expect it to expose and oppose violations of human rights which used fallacious and baseless arguments, like the spectre of May 13 to falsely justify the continued ban on public rallies. It is simply outrageous that the Deputy Suhakam Chairman should violate the Suhakam charter to lead the pack to question and oppose the lifting of the 25-year ban on public rallies using the most spurious of grounds.
DAP will lodge a formal protest with Suhakam tomorrow against its Deputy Chairman’s statement for undermining human rights, for two reasons:
Firstly, in implying that in the past, public rallies were allowed without regard to security considerations. This is wrong and baseless, as in the 19 years between 1957-1969 and subsequently from 1971-1978, when public rallies were allowed, police permit had to be sought and security clearance received for every public rally held. No public rally had ever been cited as the cause of disturbances in the 19 years when public rallies were allowed in the country.
Secondly, it is a distortion of history to blame public rallies for the May 13 riots.
There had been no independent inquiry into the causes of the May 13 riots in 1969 and although controversy rages as to the actual causes, one thing is beyond dispute - that the May 13 riots had nothing to do with public rallies in the 1969 general election, for the following reasons:
If public rallies were the cause or one of the causes of the May 13 riots in 1969, they would not have been allowed immediately when the 21-month suspension of Parliament and all political activities during the National Operations Council (NOC) rule were lifted in February 1971 – with public rallies allowed for the next seven years, including during the 1974 general election.
When public rallies were “temporarily banned” in July 1978 by the police, it was not because they posed security threat to the country, but because of the impending 30th anniversary of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) armed struggle, with the police expecting intensification of urban guerrilla attacks following a spate of assassination of former Special Branch Chinese officers, preceded by the assassination of the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim in Kuala Lumpur.
But the 30th MCP armed struggle anniversary came and went without any incident, though the “temporary” ban on public rallies went on for 25 years, even after the peace accords reached by the MCP and the government in Haadyai in December 1989 and now, the biography of Chin Peng, the MCP Secretary-General entitled “My Side of History”, is freely available in the bookshops.
In the past three decades, Barisan Nasional leaders would threaten voters at every general election that there would be May 13 and racial riots if the Barisan Nasional is not returned with a strong two-thirds majority.
Is the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who will become the fifth Prime Minister in 38 days’ time, prepared to publicly commit the Barisan Nasional under his leadership not to raise the spectre of May 13 in the next general election to intimidate and stampede the voters to cast their votes for the BN?
After 34 years, it is time to exorcise the spectre of the May 13 to ensure it does not continue to be abused to stifle the fundamental human right of Malaysians to vote freely without coercion or fear. This should be regarded as a top human right challenge by Suhakam, and tomorrow, DAP will make specific proposals to Suhakam for the exorcising of the spectre of May 13.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman