Call on Abdullah to lift the ban on public rallies and to end the one-sided coverage of electronic and mainstream media to demonstrate that he has the political will to introduce a new system of good, clean, fair and incorruptible governance starting with free and fair general election
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to lift the ban on public rallies and to end the one-sided coverage of electronic and mainstream media to demonstrate that he has the political will to introduce a new system of good, clean, fair and incorruptible governance starting with free and fair general election.
Public rallies were banned 26 years ago on the ground of security concern arising from the 30th anniversary of the Communist Party of Malaya armed insurrection. At that time, the Inspector General of Police, Tun Hanif Omar, who is now the Deputy Chairman of the Police Royal Commission said that the ban on public rallies was specifically to deal with the security situation that could arise from the 30th anniversary of the Communist Party of Malaya. However, when nothing happened during the period, as there was not a single incident whatsoever on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Communist Party of Malaya, the ban on public rallies continued as it was political expedient for the ruling Barisan Nasional to restrict the legitimate political activities of the oppositions.
This is a fundamental violation of human rights which should be removed altogether by Abdullah as an indication of his commitment and seriousness about respecting human rights.
Abdullah has also repeatedly said that he wanted to hear the truth from the people. However nothing has been done in the past four months to ensure a free and fair media, particularly the electronic media of radio and television.
In the election campaign, Abdullah should direct all government controlled media in particular radio and television to provide a fair and level playing field to all contesting candidates and parties to allow them equal time to present their positions and to stop the undemocratic practice where these government media were reduced to propaganda outfit of the ruling parties.
In this connection, DAP condemns the unfair and undemocratic ban on three Keadilan leaders, Mohamed Azmin Ali, Mohamed Ezam Mohamed Noor and Irene Fernandez , to stand as candidates in the 2004 general election on the ground that they had been convicted for various criminal offences. These offences as not really criminal in nature, as they are all purely political, for instance for “disclosing government secret” under the Official Secret Act and for “publishing false news” under the Printing Presses and Publication Act. As the three are still appealing to the higher courts against their convictions, they should not be barred from standing for elective office in the general election.
The ban on Mohamed Azmin Ali, Mohamed Ezam Mohamed Noor and Irene Fernandez from standing in the 2004 general election can only damage the international reputation of Malaysia and the new Prime Minister for their atrocious disregard for the most basic notion of democratic and human rights.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman