( Speech at the DAP Sungkai dinner function organized by Sdr. A. Sivanesan Assemblyman for Sungkai on Friday, September 23, 2011)
July 9 this year was day of victory for democracy.
On this day, about 50,000 people had courageously participated in the BERSIH 2.0 rally to demand electoral reforms.
The BN chose to “demonize” the rally by carrying out aggressive publicity attacks. MCA claimed the number of Chinese participants was small.
Yet the truth is that the rally was a tremendous success and caused a negative political impact on the government’s image.
The Prime Minister’s popularity was affected as a result. According to an opinion survey, his popular ratings have dropped to 59%, compared to the peak 79% he once achieved.
And so a panicked Government was in desperation to improve the Prime Minister’s image and popularity, hence came the Malaysia Day announcement of a slew of legislative changes which includes the repeal of ISA.
The prime minister later said the repeal of the ISA was possible at this time because of the success in developing the nation, the increasing maturity of the people and the greater awareness of human rights in society.
He said that it was not due to pressure from any quarter.
There is no doubt that the change is a victory of the people and the changes were due to pressure from the people.
Last year was the 50th anniversary of ISA and I had reiterated the DAP’s stand that the draconian ISA must be abolished.
These were what I had said:-
ISA’s detention without trial goes against the very fundamental principle of the Rule of Law.The history of ISA is a record of abuses by the previous Alliance and the present BN government. ISA has been abused to detain political dissidents, unionists and activists.”
Many DAP leaders became victims of ISA arrests due to such abuse. Sdr Lim Kit Siang himself was twice incarcerated under this draconian law.
Our late Sdr Chian Heng Kai (former national vice chairman) was detained under the ISA when his daughter was only 2 days old and he was only released after losing his freedom for more than 4 years.
I will say tonight that the government should show its sincerity by tendering a public apology and making compensation to the ISA victims for the sufferings inflicted on them and their family.
While we welcome legislative changes announced, we must demand more changes.
It is insufficient for abolishing the annual permit required by newspaper publishers. The government should abolish the license requirement altogether.
All draconian laws must go. Official Secrets Act, Sedition Act and Universities and University Colleges Act must go too.
Reforms must involve more aspects, including electoral and economic aspects.
There must be free and fair elections and the economic policies must be fair and just to all Malaysians.
If the Prime Minister is not prepared to embark on more meaningful and real changes, then Malaysia will remain a flawed democracy and his talk of making Malaysia the best democracy will continue to be one of his greatest jokes.