Friday, September 12, 2008

Malaysia in the grip of another ISA madness?

Malaysia in the grip of another ISA madness?

A second Internal Security Act (ISA) arrest in less than eight hours after RPK – the Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng who reported that Umno Bukit Bendera division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail’s speech at a Permatang Pauh by-election ceramah on August 23 that the Chinese in Malaysia are “squatters” in the country and which resulted in a nation-wide furore and political crisis.

Ahmad got off lightly with a three-year Umno suspension but why is the Sin Chew Daily reporter detained under the ISA, when her report had been confirmed as true when Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Umno President Datuk Seri Najib had apologised “on behalf” of Ahmad?

Although Ahmad did not “recognise” Najib’s apology on his behalf, the Deputy Prime Minister’s apology is confirmation that Tan’s report was correct, especially as Najib was present when Ahmad had given the controversial speech at the Umno ceramah during the Permatang Pauh by-election.

Will the two reporters, one from Guang Ming and the other from Nanyang, who had collaborated Tan’s report of Ahmad Ismail’s speech be next on the ISA crackdown? What about all those columnists who had flayed Ahmad for his provocative, inflammatory and racist speech - are they all marked for the Kamunting Detention Centre?

Is Malaysia in the grip of another ISA madness, akin to Operation Lalang 21 years ago when there were mass arrests under the ISA (with Guan Eng and I among the first of the 106 persons to be arrested but were the last two to be released) and closure of three newspapers?

Ministers and leaders of MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP and other Barisan Nasional component parties must demand in the Cabinet and requisition an emergency meeting of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council for the immediate release of Tan and Raja Petra under the ISA as well as the withdrawal of the show cause notice issued by the Home Ministry to three newspapers as to why action should not be taken against them.

Their political parties had pledged after the debacle in the March general election that they would cease to be puppets and “yes-men” and would speak up for the rights of all Malaysians.

Tan Hoon Cheng and RPK are critical tests whether they meant what they say – in Cabinet and the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council – or they remain stuck in their incorrigible roles of being totally subservient to Umno “Big Brother”!

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