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3 Malaysians arrested under ISA on 12th Sep 2008

In Malaysia on September 13, 2008 at 4:05 am

Yesterday, Friday, 12th Sep 2008, my government arrested the following individuals under the Internal Security Act (see also AP-GoogleNews):

1) Raja Petra Kamarudin, editor of Malaysia Today.

2) TAN Hoon Cheng, reporter at Sin Chew Daily

3) Teresa KOK, DAP and Seputeh Member of Parliament

Local politicians, civic organisations and international press:

All these started from a by-election in Permatang Pauh, Penang (see my first post) and here (Economist).

Whilst most Malaysians look forward to the weekend, three of my fellow countrymen, are stuck behind walls – calling them ‘prisoners of conscience’ is not half of it.

Hasn’t Dr King and Mandela done enough? Why does my government refuse to see? Why do Malaysian leaders do this to its citizens? For the first time in my life, I am not proud to be called Malaysian anymore – there’s nothing to be proud of, except perhaps the resilience of its people – the common folk who sacrifice so much for the few priviledged ‘leaders’.

It’s nearly 4am and I am here, one of those nights, where I cannot see nor understand and my conscience as a Malaysian eats at me. What’s my next course of action, what’s my part in this whole sordid day of infamy for Malaysia – the first time in our history a mainstream press journalist (TAN Hoon Cheng) is arrested for reporting facts, as explained by her newspaper on 8th Sep 2008:

On 25th August, Sin Chew Daily reported the speech made by Bukit Bendera UMNO Division Chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail at a BN ceramah in Kampung Pelet during the Permatang Pauh by-election. The report comprised only three short paragraphs and appeared on page 8 as a side-bar to the main article which was on the speech on the same occasion and made by Deputy Umno President Datuk Seri Najib, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister. The report contains 144 words, and was a mere 1.89% of the total layout of that page. The reporter was reporting the event factually and did not have any intention to play up Ahmad’s speech.

… The reporter, Tan Hoon Cheng, is a Mass Communication graduate from Universiti Sains Malaysia. Her command of the national language is at least that of university level. In her nine years experience as a reporter, she has covered various political conferences and speeches, and no mistakes were ever made. If she had a personal agenda, she will not stop at just making a factual report of Ahmad’s speech. She did not use a single adjective in her report.

I am highlighting this journalist because, though no less incomprehensible, the other ISA detainees are much more prominent and will probably have significant support – Teresa KOK as a Member of Parliament, has her opposition (DAP) party and Raja Petra has what seems the entire Malaysian blogoshpere setting up a rally / protest on 15th Sep 2008:

Pakatan Rakyat is holding a Hari Malaysia celebration on 15th September, 2008 at the Kelana Jaya stadium to commemorate 45 years of the formation of Malaysia, since 1963. The even starts at 8pm.

Mahathir set the precedent in 1987 (27th October) when he detained 106 civil activists, using oppressive laws from the discredited colonial British Empire. That was 30 years after we achieved Independence. Yesterday, 12th Sep 2008, Badawi’s government detained 3 individuals – a full 51 years after we had a Malaysia for all Malaysians, and using the very same oppressive laws against 3 Malaysian civilians.

It seems the night has passed as just another non-event for our, largely apolitical, citizens. As ‘Hurrican Ike bears down towards Texas (AP), Zimbabweans work towards reconciliation and reconstruction (Voice of Amercia), and yet another car bomb near Baghdad kills at least 32, wounding 43 (AP), I can only recall Queen Elizabeth II’s words in a remembrance gathering for 9/11:

Grief is the price we pay for love.

As I do love my country, and one day the names of all these individuals will be read aloud and the dates a national holiday. One day.

  1. Mike, after Zaid Ibrahim’s protest over the abuse of ISA laws and his resignation, there now follows yet another interesting development.

    I was first alerted to this by Anil Netto’s RSS: the Mufti of Perlis has also criticised the government for using the ISA. And this guy is NOT from Pas but Umno! Anil had quoted M-Star in that post.

    Which just goes to prove that we should do away with looking at things in either black or white, with no shades in between. Like “Umno people = BAD; Pakatan Rakyat people = GOOD”. Things aren’t that simple, for we must also acknowledge that there are good elements in Umno too.

    At the same time, be wary of those who are actually “investing” in PR – hoping to reap personal benefits and gains should PR come into power. There are good and bad people on ALL sides, regardless of nationality, race, religion and political affiliations.

  2. You’re spot on. Don’t look at labels.

    Ask, instead, what our leaders will do for Malaysia, all Malaysians. Others who hold differing views are no less Malaysian than you or me.

  3. […] when he claimed, as a politician, he should not make this decision. I’ve blogged about this here and here and here. But it does not change the fact that Raja Petra will now be held under ISA for […]

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