Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Internal Security Act

Teresa Kok, Raja Petra, Tan Hoon Cheng

The three were detained under the ISA as a threat to national security. Tam Hoon Cheng, the Sin Chew reporter who first reported that Ahmad Ismail, the Penang UMNO 'warlord' had labelled the Chinese as "squatters" who do not deserve equal rights in the country, was released 18 hours later. Later in a news conference, the Home Minister clarified that she was arrested for her own safety as the Police had information that her life was threatened.

Teresa Kok, a state assembly woman and a senior Selangor state executive councillor was arrested over allegation that she was involved in a petition to ask a mosque to tone down its 'azan' call to Muslims to pray. These allegations were subsequently disputed by mosque officials who stated that the P.A. system failed. Mosque officials have lodged a police report against the former state minister, Mohd Khir Toyo who, in his blog, accused Teresa Kok of inciting racial hatred by petitioning to have the 'azan' call halted. A mosque official said, "I see all of this as slander and an attempt to give rise to prejudice among the various races in Kota Damansara, an act of provocation to divide the community".

For Raja Petra of Malaysia Today, he has long expected that he would be arrested under the ISA, and he was not surprised when he was picked up for his articles that to the government, insult the Malays and Islam.

Those picked up could be detained up to 2 years without trial. The ISA was originally enacted to deal with the communist threat during the British occupation.

Rumours are swirling that there will be more arrests of opposition leaders and activists in the days to come. Meanwhile, Ahmad Ismail, the mamak who started the fracas remains scot-free, not losing sleep over what he has done to the nation's fragile racial harmony.

One hypothesis that seems to take hold in the public consciousness is that the Ahmad Ismail episode and the chain of events that followed are orchestrated to bring about a second Operation Lalang: start a bush fire of racial resentment, and the fire will spread with a will of its own. Invoke the Internal Security Act in the name of national security and public order. The Operation Lalang in 1987 saw the arrest of 106 opposition leaders and activists under the Internal Security Act and the revoking of publishing licences of a few dailies. An interesting hypothesis, the parallels are too obvious to be completely ignored.

1 comment:

  1. Syed Hamid said there will be no more arrest. I think there is tremendous pressure from within BN to curtail their own stupidity. However, it seems that this time, it was the police who tried to be heroes.