PETALING JAYA: Thirty years after Operasi Lalang, the spirit of the Internal Security Act (ISA) is still alive in the country through the passing and enforcement of preventive laws, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto said today.
She said despite Prime Minister Najib Razak’s move to abolish the ISA, many laws had been amended and introduced under his administration which restricted freedoms enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
She also slammed Najib’s recent comments that certain quarters were creating false impressions that Malaysia was in danger of sliding into a dictatorship.
“The prime minister lacks enlightenment as legislations that are dictatorial in nature are a reflection of a dictatorial government led by dictatorial leadership. Nothing more and nothing less,” she said in a statement commemorating the 30th anniversary of Operasi Lalang.Listing out these laws, she said Najib appeared “determined to revive the ghost of political persecutions” and “exhume the corpse of Operasi Lalang”.
First on the list was the Peaceful Assembly Act, which she said was forced through Parliament on Nov 29, 2011, and came into force the following year.
Then came the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), which was debated and passed in 2012 and further amended in 2017.
Kasthuri also pointed to amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) in 2015, the introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 2015, and the National Security Council Act which was debated and passed in the Dewan Rakyat in 2016.
“Not forgetting Section 124B of the Penal Code which explicitly yet vaguely criminalises ‘activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy’, Section 124C which covers ‘attempts to commit activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy’, and even Section 124D which covers ‘printing, sale, etc, of documents and publication detrimental to parliamentary democracy’, and Section 124E which deals with ‘possession of documents and publication detrimental to parliamentary democracy’,” she said.
“Poca and Sosma will be used for short-term detention without trial, Section 124B of the Penal Code warrants 20 years in prison for activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, and the National Security Council Act gives authoritarian, executive, emergency powers to the prime minister, paving the way for sure abuse.”
Kasthuri said the apparent and common factor in these acts was the denial of the right to be tried before a court of law, the right to be heard, and the fundamental right of natural justice.
“Instead of projecting to the world that the Barisan Nasional government is committed to burying the Operasi Lalang of 1987 by making progressive, democratic changes to the law, the government has shown its lack of political will and insistence to uphold the spirit of the Federal Constitution,” she added.
Operasi Lalang, which took place on Oct 27, 1987, saw 106 people including NGO activists, students, opposition politicians, religious leaders and artists, detained without trial under the ISA.
The ISA, which was repealed in July 2012, provided for detention without trial and was repeatedly used against opposition politicians.