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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Into The Depths

Moments in history leave their imprints on destiny. Actions translate into consequences.

I have often wondered what it is that was running through the minds of those who triggered Operasi Lalang on that fateful 27th of October 1987. They were about to trigger a chain of events that would put this nation on a collision course with its very foundations. They were about to cast the perspectives and attitudes of a generation of Malaysians who would in turn shape those of another.

Racialism, fear and loathing, supremacist beliefs; a belief in the right of might.

On October 27th, 1987, 106 persons were detained. They were mainly politicians and political activists. Their absence left a gash in our democracy through which ideals and principles were sucked out into nothingness.

In the General Election of 1986, the Opposition held 28 seats. Of these, the DAP held twenty-four seats. PAS held one.

Five DAP Members of Parliament, amongst them the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Lim Kit Siang, the then Deputy Chairman of the party, Mr Karpal Singh, Mr Lim Guan Eng and the indomitable V David. Four DAP assemblymen were also detained and a host of civil society activists.

The opposition was emasculated.

On 28th October 1987, Lee Lam Thye attempted to move an urgent motion to debate the detentions. The speaker rejected his request, basing his decision on the Prime Minister having given notice that he was presenting a statement on the subject. This excerpt from the Hansard report of the proceedings of that day captures the essence of the Prime Ministe’s address.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, kita semua masih ingat peristiwa 13 Mei, 1969. Tentulah tidak ada di antara kita yang suka mencetuskan rusuhan berdarah seperti itu sekali lagi. Oleh itu, sikap tidak bertanggungjawab dan kegiatan menjolok isu-isu yang sensitif sepatutnya tidak berlaku.

Walau bagaimanapun, pihak Polis yang sepanjang masa memerhati dan meneliti perkembangan politik dan lain-lain gerak-geri rakyat, mendapati bahawa ada pihak-pihak tertentu yang tidak menghargai sikap Kerajaan. Mereka sebaliknya menggunakan peluang daripada pendirian Kerajaan ini untuk memperalatkan isu-isu sensitif untuk kepentingan mereka dan dalang-dalang mereka. Mereka tidak mempedulikan kesan buruk akibat daripada sikap tidak bertanggung- jawab ini.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, pihak Polis mendapati bahawa beberapa tokoh pemimpin parti Pembangkang dan kumpulan-kumpulan yang sebulu dengan mereka telah dengan sengaja membesar-besarkan isu yang ada kaitan dengan kaum. Pihak DAP khususnya, terlalu memainkan isu-isu perkauman Cina dan lndia secara terbuka. Mereka memberi gambaran hahawa Kerajaan menindas kaum-kaum ini. Mereka mengadakan rapat-rapat umum, mesyuarat awam, rally, demonstrasi dan lain-lain kegiatan untuk membakar hati orang-orang Cina dan lndia terhadap Kerajaan dan terhadap orang-orang Melayu.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua. pihak Polis mendapati bahawa pemimpin-pemimpin parti DAP amat gemar menggunakan isu-isu yang berbau pcrkauman untuk mendapat sokongan bagi parti mereka. Mereka bukan sahaja herlagak sebagai juara kaum Cina dan India, tetapi juga sengaja mencabar parti-parti kaum Cina dan lndia dalam Kerajaan kerana kononnya tidak memperjuangkan kepentingan kaum-kaum mereka. Dengan ini maka parti kaum Cina dan lndia dalam Kerajaan pun melenting dan cuba pula untuk melebihi parti DAP dalam ketebalan perkauman mereka.

Usaha menjadi jaguh ini meningkat apabila DAP dapat mengalahkan beberapa calon dari parti Cina dalam Barisan Nasional dalam Pilihanraya 1986. DAP sengaja mengejek parti Cina dalam Barisan Nasional sebagai "running dogs" parti UMNO. Dengan ini maka semakin bertambahlah usaha parti Cina dan India dalam Barisan Nasional untuk membuktikan bahawa mereka juga kuat dari segi perkauman bahkan lebih kuat lagi daripada DAP dan pemimpin-pemimpinnya. Berbagai isu dijadikan asas ujian tentang siapa lebih kuat perkaumannya. Beberapa daripada isu-isu ini amat sensitif termasuk soal tarian singa, soal koperasi, soal papan tanda dan iklan, soal bahasa Cina, soal Bukit Cina, soal pakaian, soal ikrar murid di sekolah, soal matapelajaran elektif di Universiti Malaya, KBSR, soal pribumi Bumiputera dan akhir- ahkir ini soal guru sekolah Cina. Satu perbuatan yang amat bahaya ialah penggunaan kuil untuk mesyuarat perkauman.

Dalam usaha-usaha yang dibuat sewaktu membincangkan isu-isu ini, banyak kata-kata kesat yang boleh ditakrif sebagai hasutan; disuarakan dengan lantang. Reaksi daripada orang Melayu juga meningkat kerana sebab-sebab yang tersebut sehingga ke peringkat yang melampaui batas. Semua ini dilaporkan oleh akhbar- akhbar dan majalah-majalah dan media massa ini juga semakin berani…

The Prime Minister’s address received approval from all the Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament present. Not one of those MP’s expressed concern.

The stage having been set for greater executive control, and taking advantage of a weakened opposition and a media lock down, laws were enacted to stifle expression. Amongst them was the constitutional amendment to Article 121(1) of the Federal Constitution that suborned the Judiciary to Parliament, the jurisdiction of the former being a matter that from that point on became a matter of federal law. On the heels of that amendment, came the amendments to the ISA that precluded judicial review. The Printing Presses and Publications Act was amended to vest a subjective discretion in the Minister to suspend or shut down publications. The Police Act was amended to enhance the power of the police to regulate public assemblies.

The Judiciary was assaulted, a new brand of justice given life to. Democracy was taken hostage.

All of this while the leadership of the Opposition was in Kemunting for conduct that was said to be wholly destabilizing of the nation. None of those detained were ever charged for any crime. Some of them are still in Parliament or serving the nation in other capacities.

The message that the Mahathir Administration sent in 1987 has been the single biggest obstacle to developing a sustainable and inclusive foundation for this nation. We still suffer its familiar strains. We still struggle against fear.

Intimidation can never be a tool for nation building; it carries the imprimatur of autocracies. Unity can never be decreed, it is a heartfelt condition.

Malaysia can only be one when this government recognizes that the chain of consequences that emanated from that day in October, 1987 have us all in a stranglehold; its weight threatens to pull us down into the depths of oblivion.



ABC said...

Ok ok i am a supporter of rights and demokrasi and justice.

But u are like a record player keep harping the same thing in a boring monotone.

Add some variety please, thanx u

Starmandala said...

ABC, the disease is stubborn. That's why the medicine is being dispensed repeatedly. Imtiaz, by quoting Mahathir's self-serving & cynical rationale for abusing the ISA in classic rule-by-law manner, has brought to our attention the dangers of such an evil entity once again casting a dark shadow across the innocent face of democracy.

Unknown said...

I agree with Antares that we need to be reminded of the origins of the disease and the actions we need to take in order that we can prevent the same virus being unleashed again because of our carelessness! While the political maturity of the people has grown (the same cannot be said of the BN parties which are stuck in a time-warp, we are in a very vulnerabe and precarious situation because of the very uncertain domestic and international economic conditions. these can constitute grounds for the virus to attack us again and the opriginator that virus is once again behind the throne.

Only we can help ourselves as every other nation in the world, including the most powerful one, have major domestic problems to pre-occupy them. The will of the people must not falter.

It woul;d be interesting if our new PM can expound on his One Malaysia so that we can appreciate his real mind behind that slogan. I remeber all the slogans that Tun Mahathir came out with periodically to fool the people while insidiously strengthening his political hands and cards as expounded by Malik in his reminder piece.

Thands Malik for the timely reminder that we need to be ever vigilant again the political "dengue" virus!

Fi-sha said...

Sadly, people like ABC treats our politics like some latin american soap drama.

Dear Mssr Malik Imtiaz, your writing brings goosebumps to me...seems like a premonition that will come alive...

God protects us all

ahoo said...

There is a typo error on date mentioned :
" On 28th October 2007 " should be On 28th October 1987.

The old warlords are still in denial mode. Take for example Pak Din, when he said that he just cannot understand why Chinese and Indians are still with PKR when the govt has had in fact dish out more goodies to them during the recent by-elections for both Bukits. I think he is just too clouded in old politics to know the needs and demands of today's young generation.

Hello Pak Din,

How not to be ungrateful when after living for many generations, many Malaysians are still holding TOL on the land that their grandfathers had built the house ?

How not to be ungrateful when our children get good grades but have no university place for them ? Note that these grades are acceptable to Singapore's standards and as such should be acceptable to many local universities.

How not to be ungrateful when we know that most of the ministers children are school not in Malaysia BUT in international school or campuses or overseas ? This just indicated that our educational system being one of the top in Asia is merely talk only. When even our own ministers cannot trust our local U, what else can we say ?

How not to be ungrateful when so many policies implemented are not for unity but infact disunity ?

Why on earth continue to dish out special discount for bumis when buying house ? If they can own their first house, this priviledge should not continue ? This will encourage even the millionaire and billionaire to accumulate more. The poor in the kampongs are still living below poverty and still dreaming of their " freehold land titles."

When money is allowed in politics and it is not a crime. When the will to control corruptions is merely words but not enough action.

When politicians with connection can travel around the world under tax payers expense in the name of technical studies.

When APs are given out to cronies and benefitted the selected few.

When GLCs are running huge losses and funds are ever ready to bail them out.

When incompetency are the rule of the day and meritocracy is a swear word.

When those connected and with corrupts ideas are rewarded and those not for them are seen as against them and punished.

So Pak Din, be fair to all as we are after all anak Malaysia, mah !

Unknown said...

It is God's will as it manifest in our world as cause and effect.The wisdom of the kithab states that except for the one Truth,all else are impermenant.This include democracy.Tuhan have different ways for its death for different countries.In our country,the seed for it's demise is operation lallang.With the accerated change that is on-going,death is round the corner.Lord Jesus say,Only the Truth can set us free.Mankind should start heeding the scriptures.

navin said...

seems like we're all waiting for things to get done. i cant speak for all Malaysians, but id like to voice my view, in light of this 'virus'.
as a 27-year old, i represent the young adult demographic. i know there are many of my peers out there on the ground, raising awareness, publishing articles, fighting for basic rights. from my end, i just digest all the news presented to me on a plate, via the internet. i must say, the internet has a lot of information, and depending on the source, emotions can surface in a few lines that may or may not benefit the real cause; the fight for equitable conditions.
some days, i tell myself, "yes, im gonna fuckin join a rally and stand for my beliefs!" most of the time, i do nothing but read.
i've become apathetic. the point is lost on me, the more i think about what i can do. maybe im in a shit job that doesnt stimulate creativity, maybe i sincerely lack drive, maybe i just dont care.
when i look around me, at my colleagues, my neighbors, my friends...all of them share the same apathy. "yes" they say, "yes this is a fucked up country" while inside they know any small part they play in changing the country's fortunes will be stymied and clamped down with rigor.
fear is visible. it has come to this. how? i blame greed. lack of control. a decades-old disregard of anything the govt gets its hands in, coz quite simply we listen like dogs to our political masters. for me, i feel that on a national level, Malaysians really dont care about what happens, as long as tomorrow there's rice on the table.

this is a generalization. its the specifics that reveal the nitty-gritty useless-ness of it all. but i pray for the day that drive and passion take a strong foothold in the ordinary Malaysian. have we been conditioned to be passive? have i? i dont want to think so.

Anonymous said...


Leave god out of this. Main stream religion is the main cause of so many countries being reduced to failed states. Religion is a disease. Prinicpals and morality should be upheld without quoting from some ancient text. Mankind'd struggles are real more so when faced with ingrates in the present Gomen. We should learn to fight our battles and wars without preching about god being the saviour.

Bobby said...

My father was intentionally transferred to a Chinese school although he didn't speak a word of Chinese, as he had to make way for the new headmaster which was supportive of Mahathir's regime. The Zhong Hua Association President was then detained under the same Operasi for protesting this move. Makes no sense.
Also, Cheryl Dorall is one super nice lady. What "qualified" her to be detained under Lallang?
I hope BN continues to be blind and insensitive to the request of the people, and when the time comes, they will know what is retribution.

DIASPORA said...

What manifested in this country in all respects with Operation Lallang will NEVER go away. Hopefully we will not become another Zimbabwe.

The amendments to the Constitution, the enactment of various Acts of Parliament, the rise of Elites and Cronies and other nefarious activities still in the vogue and masterminded by the Man of Evil not go away that easily because all these vestments have given BN the power and lordship over us.

The Police need not carry out proper investigations. The AG does not need to present irrefutable facts in Court.

The Cops are already robbing people and being caught by their fellow Officers.

Any difficult case or the whims of a lazy Officer can easily be solved by the ISA and a pliant Judiciary.

TDM expects to be remembered for his tallest towers and what not but he maybe did not realise that others would build even larger towers.

He possibly felt that he was a Pharoah of ancient Egypt building everlasting pyramids to his fame after death but to his sad fate all the edifices that he built and what he drew up as legislation are coming to haunt him and the BN and these are the very factors that will finally see the demise of UMNO and the BN ( which has a few rag tag members in MCA; MIC and Gerakan now in its midst hoping for some crumbs from the table).

We must have faith that Malaysians are not stupid and the day will come when all Malaysians will be one and that this country will revert to its old Paradise state.

The new generation is already producing men and women of the mettle of steel and in their hands the present BN will only be putty in the years to come.

Hopeful said...

I think many people worry about ISA being the Sword of Damocles that hangs over our heads for expressing differing views. Some of these views used to be labeled 'Western views' and ridiculed.

The fact of the matter is we need a Malaysia that can put aside racial prejudices and rise to the challenges of the 21st Century. That means a Malaysia that is built on merit rather than race, religion and status. Leaders foresight to understand the long term implications of what needs to happen and the courage steer us in that direction. (And for the record, I hope we don't end up like Singapore either)

This is an ideal that should be strived for but also understanding that it will take time to happen. The Civil Right movement took the US as much time as our nation as been around (and to some is still going on).

flyer168 said...


Another great & TIMELY article you have penned....Least we ALL Forget!!!

With the “Haprak” UMNO/BN Leaders “Bankrupt of Intelligent, Legal, Constitutional, Political, etc SOLUTIONS”....

They will always be in Denial & therefore will resort to “Alternative Tactics” which can only be found in their Gutter Politics & Law of the Jungle “Holy Book”!

Well, the dreaded "Ops Lallang 2" will definitely come in strong in due course as they get more "Desperate"....

Party promotions based on “patronisation, money politics, etc” without “Meritocracy and Proven Track Records” leads to “Leaders” that UMNO is inheriting - “Elite, Ketuanan UMNO BEGGARS”....

Through “Devine” intervention, UMNO, its Leaders & their Mercenaries are now “Outdoing & Destroying” each other with their “Power, Greed & Henious Crimes”.

Remember....One must always be MAGNANIMOUS in VICTORY....


Every new day will be another “New Revelation” to reveal another “Truth” in its Self Destruct motion towards its “Demise”.

Just give them enough rope to “Hang” themselves at every turn in their “Final” chapter.

Hello, apa macam mahu jadi “Pemimpin” cawangan dan negara kalau ta’mau dengar, tengok & belajar....

Asik2 mau pukul semua Anak Bangsa Malaysia, Melayu, Cina, India & SENDIRI PUNYA PARTY MEMBER pun mau cari Gaduh (MB Ahmad Said!)!!!!

Pemimpin Ketuanan Muslim Hadhari UMNO dari atas sampai bawah semua GOBLOK!

Everyone of them UMNO Leaders are “Squeezing” each other by the “Orbs/Jugulars”.

After what Agong had done for Incoming PM & DPM last week....

Now the “Anointed Adviser” have them both in his “Trap” with one son as Dy Minister of MITI & another Businessman son soon will be appointed as a “Senator” in due course (Semua APs bisa Di-ator!)....

He now has to complete his “Dream Team” with “Idris Jusoh” & his 40 thieves....

Creating another State Constitutional Crisis in Trengganu, to continue the Oil Royalty plunder Kau, Kau Pt 2!

Looks like it will spread to Kedah & Perlis also....

Next we have the revisit of the JB/Singapore Crooked Bridge issue bubbling up when this nation does not need & can ill afford to build it at this point in time....

The next will be the "Slotting In" of our ex FM Daim to complete our "Adviser's Dream Tag Team Twin"....

ALL together with his 2 sons he is now the “Taiko Adviser” to continue from where he left the last time....

Fat Mama’s 1st reprimand to Najib....

Bodoh....remove MB Mohd Nizar but forgot to remove Speaker Sivakumar!

Now 2nd reprimand....

Goblok....Listen to Mahyuddin to invite Mahathir to rejoin UMNO!

Now....even Mama cannot help you, Stupido!

There will definitely be “Fireworks”, so let us sit back & watch the Greatest show in Bolehland....

You go figure out....

Remember “What goes round, will come round to these Desperate UMNO Ketetuanan Beggars” - Past, Present & Future.

The “Opressors” will “FAIL” & God Almighty will ensure “Justice” will be done.

Do keep up your "Prayers" to God Almighty in your own way for "Sanity, Human Rights, Justice, Freedom, Equality & Peace to "Prevail" over "EVIL"

Devine Intervention works Wonders.

Young Malaysian said...

Dear Malik,

Thanks for informing young Malaysians that
Mahathir the dictator was the one who destroyed democracy, judiciary independent, suppression of freedom of speech, trampling of human rights in Malaysia.

LAT said...

Thanks for REMINDING us, the "Forgetful & Oppressed Rakyat" so that we will turn our sorrow into power. And this post ( no matter how many time you repeat here) also serve to RECALL the memory of those who possess "Selective Memory".