UEC RECOGNITION: AN UTTERLY EGREGIOUS CONVERSATION

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 2 Aug 2018

The pussyfooting over the recognition of the UEC which was one of the election promises of Pakatan Harapan and the misrepresentation of the facts of the issue amounts to an utterly egregious conversation. Why do I say this?

Continue reading “UEC RECOGNITION: AN UTTERLY EGREGIOUS CONVERSATION”

GETTING THE FACTS RIGHT ON OPS LALANG

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 25 Jan 2018

Testifying at the hearing of Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah’s defamation suit against Sungai Besar Umno division chief Jamal Md Yunos, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI), the former Education Minister during Ops Lalang has claimed that the infamous Operasi Lalang resulted from the discord between MCA Youth and Umno Youth. At a stroke, he placed the responsibility on the UMNO Youth leader, Najib at the time and thus absolved both himself, the then Education Minister and Dr Mahathir, the then PM.

Those who respect the importance of truth in historical accounts, no matter how distasteful it may be, begin with discerning accurate facts and the related sequence of events. In this process, for facts before the advent of Google, Malaysians can be assisted by my record of the events in my 1992 title, ‘Malaysian Political Realities’. In the Introduction to my book, Leader of the Opposition Lim Kit Siang wrote:

“Dr Kua Kia Soong has aptly chosen the title of his book ‘Malaysian Political realities’…In Malaysia, there is not only an industry to rewrite history but a very high-powered conspiracy to daily distort and suppress reality through the government monopoly and control of the electronic and printed mass media…The ‘free press’ which the PM, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamed, claims in international forums that Malaysia enjoys, is a press which is only ‘free’ to distort and suppress political realities in Malaysia.”

Contrived controversy between UMNO & MCA, October 1986

The first chapter in my 1992 title is called: ‘History and the Pribumi: Fruitless quest for the unholy grail’, which is a comment on the rather contrived controversy between UMNO and MCA during October 1986. It is important to note the date that the controversy was contrived, namely, October 1986.

In this article, I was at pains to point out that “the issue of whether any community is genuinely ‘pribumi’ or ‘immigrant’ has absolutely no significance to the question of peoples’ rights.” This controversy was by no means the only one orchestrated by UMNO in 1986. There was also the one about the “social contract” created by Datuk Abdullah Ahmad of “Ketuanan Melayu” fame.

Any serious scholar of Malaysian politics will know that all the “racial” controversies in recent Malaysian history including the May 13 incident, have been orchestrated by UMNO. Through all these years, there is no doubt that UMNO Youth has played the role of stormtroopers who carry out the breast beating and gong banging at the behest of their political masters in UMNO. I am sure DSAI is familiar with these “Standard Operating Procedures” within UMNO. The mob which attacked us during the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor in 1996 was no different. Who should bear the responsibility for that shameful event then? Saifuddin or the UMNO Youth chief at the time Zahid Hamidi or DSAI himself?

Orchestrated controversy in Chinese schools, October 1987

Nevertheless, in Chapter 12 of my book, ‘OCTOBER 1987: The Furore in the Chinese Schools’, it was the Education Minister, namely, DSAI with the connivance of the PM at the time, Dr Mahathir, who made the decision to send non-qualified administrators to the Chinese schools. Whereas the contrived controversy over ‘Pribumi vs Immigrants’ by UMNO Youth and MCA Youth was in October 1986, it was the Chinese schools controversy in October 1987 which caused the Chinese community to protest against the unjust move and which resulted in orchestrated tension that led to Ops Lalang.

The DAP was also in the committee which opposed this unjust and orchestrated move to send unqualified administrators to the Chinese school. I am sure DAP leaders such as Lim Kit Siang will agree with me that it was not the UMNO Youth-MCA Youth spat in 1986 but the Chinese schools issue in October 1987 that led to Ops Lalang.

Certainly, the UMNO Youth leader at the time, Najib Razak was one of the UMNO firebrands who were at the Jalan Raja Muda stadium where racist banners were displayed just before Ops Lalang was launched. But responsibility for sending the unqualified administrators to the Chinese schools rests on DSAI while responsibility for launching the arrests and detention rests squarely on the Home Minister and Prime Minister at the time, Dr Mahathir.

Yes, you can be forgiven but…

Having left UMNO, both DSAI and Dr Mahathir can ask for forgiveness from the victims of Ops Lalang and the Chinese community for orchestrating that racial tension which gave Dr Mahathir the excuse to launch Ops Lalang, the precursor to his assault on the Judiciary.

One thing they must never do is to distort the facts of history. As Noam Chomsky has warned us:

“Younger people who are being indoctrinated into the contemporary system of falsification – they really have to do some research to find out what is the truth…”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau goes even further by saying, “The falsification of history has done more to impede human development than any one thing known to mankind!”

MAY 13: HIDDEN HANDS STILL AT WORK

MAY 13: HIDDEN HANDS STILL AT WORK
By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 13 May 2011

When the May 13 Incident broke out in 1969, Said Zahari wrote these lines while under ISA detention in Singapore:

“Once again
History repeats itself
By savage deeds
In a civilized age

Once again
Hidden hands appear
Seeking the blood
Of the poor and the wretched

Once again
Colour, race, religion and language
Become sharp blades
To use in the carnage

It has happened
In every corner of the earth
Where the few eat bread
And the rest sand

It has happened
Where the few clothed in velvet
Sleep in palaces
The rest go naked, squeezed into shacks

It has happened –
Then hidden hands reappear
Spilling the blood of the poor
To cling on to power…”

Said Zahari certainly did not buy the official line that the riots had broken out spontaneously. The thesis of my 2007 title May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969 was that the pogrom was orchestrated by these hidden hands to facilitate the rise of the Malay state capitalist class in UMNO and to topple the aristocratic class headed by the Tunku. This opportunity presented itself after the devastating results for the ruling coalition in the 1969 general elections.

It was not until July 1969 – a lapse of two full months – that the security forces played their expected role of restoring order. It was not as if the Malaysian security forces were inexperienced in the role of maintaining order. They had successfully contained the armed insurgency during the Emergency from 1948 to 1960 under more difficult circumstances. Allowing the riots to continue for so many weeks provided an excuse for the new UMNO ruling class to make use of the state of emergency to implement their agenda for political and economic dominance through the New Economic Policy. In this plan, they received the full backing and connivance of the police and military.

Before the publication of my book, UMNO had all along been using “May 13” as a spectre to frighten voters of another pogrom whenever a strong political opposition had arisen to challenge the ruling coalition. This was seen in various general elections such as the one in 1990 when the public broadcasting media RTM was used to purvey scenes of carnage to remind voters of the consequences.

Even the Tunku could see through the ploy. In 1988, he gave short shrift to the Government’s White Paper on Operation Lalang:

“For the Prime Minister (Dr Mahathir) to repeat (the story of) the violence of the May 13 Affair as a warning of what would have happened if the Government had not taken appropriate action immediately is like telling ghost stories to our children to prevent them from being naughty. This is not a childish matter but a matter of national importance. The tale should not be repeated because it shows us to be politically immature.” (SUARAM, “The White Paper on the October Affair and the Why? Papers”, 1989: 5)

The prelude to Operation Lalang saw the UMNO leaders orchestrating racial tension over the transfer of non-qualified administrators to Chinese primary schools. They held a rally in Kampong Baru at which then UMNO Youth Chief and present prime minister was one of the chest thumpers on stage while banners called for “Chinese blood” and “May 13”.

Since then, UMNO has unleashed its Youth group to harass any groups which question UMNO policies such as the mob assault on the East Timor Conference in 1996; the demonstration against the Chinese associations’ Suqiu appeals and threat to burn down the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in 2000, among others.

Orchestration of the UMNO- Controlled Media
The UMNO-owned and controlled press, especially Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian have been indispensable accessories in the orchestration of communalism and racial tension to justify authoritarian measures such as was seen in Operation Lalang, 1987 and to frighten the voters into supporting the status quo.

I have monitored the way “The UMNO Media Communalises” in Media Watch: The Use and Abuse of the Malaysian Press, 1990, in order to show you how the trick is done . For example, when the Government was being criticized for the BMF scandal in the eighties, Berita Harian (19.9.86) featured the UMNO president, Dr Mahathir’s veiled threat at the UMNO general assembly: KESABARAN MELAYU ADA HADNYA (“There is a limit to the patience of the Malays”). Utusan Malaysia (19.9.86) would not be outdone: JANGAN AMBIL MUDAH ORANG MELAYU (“Don’t take Malays for granted”)

When there was widespread opposition to the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill in 1986 by all ethnic groups, Utusan Malaysia (6.12.86) chose to feature this headline quoting the UMNO Youth Chief Datuk Seri Mohd Najib: NAJIB INGATKAN ANGGOTA-ANGGOTA UMNO KEPIMPINAN MELAYU SEDANG DICABAR (“Najib alerts UMNO members Malay leadership being challenged”)

During the orchestrated “crisis” over the posting of unqualified administrators to the Chinese primary schools, the banner headline in Berita Harian (19.10.87) read: KEKAL KETUANAN MELAYU – PEMUDA (“Defend Malay dominance – UMNO Youth”)

Then when Tengku Razaleigh was leading the Opposition Front in the 1990 general elections, the editorial headline of Berita Harian (20.4.90) read: POLITIK TENGKU RAZALEIGH MERUGIKAN MELAYU (“Tengku Razaleigh’s politics – Malays lose out”)

One really needs to go further back to the Sixties to monitor how the UMNO media has deliberately communalized issues. It all gets rather tedious to even the most weathered media watcher because they carry on ad nauseum to serve the UMNO agenda for political and economic domination by playing on Malay chauvinism.

As the young generation can see with their own eyes today, the UMNO media have not stopped. The latest caper by Utusan Malaysia alleging a plot to make Christianity an official religion is probably one of the crudest yet in its arsenal of orchestrated untruths.

Yet, has any Utusan Malaysia editor been sacked by their political masters for all these deliberate attempts at stoking racial tensions? So much for Najib’s “1Malaysia” caper! And they wonder why Malaysian professionals are leaving the country…

Demands for the 13th General Elections
Calling upon UMNO and the UMNO-owned and controlled media to be more responsible is like asking a leopard to change its spots. Bumiputraism has been part and parcel of UMNO’s ideology and method for maintaining political and economic power. Demands for social responsibility and ethical standards in the media will not be heeded unless these are enshrined in new democratic institutions.

Therefore, as we mark this 42nd anniversary of May 13, we reiterate the call for:

– A Truth & Reconciliation Commission to honour those who lost their lives in 1969 and to learn the lessons of that dark episode of Malaysian history by pointing the way forward toward national reconciliation;
– An independent Press Council and Broadcasting Authority, whose members and Chair are seen to be truly independent, acceptable and respected by civil society;
– A Race Relations Act to outlaw racism, racial discrimination, hate crimes and other related intolerances and an Equal Opportunities Commission;
– Ratification of the International Convention on the Eradication of Racism, Racial Discrimination and all forms of Intolerance.

Freedom of Expression is for All!

SUARAM regrets the disruption made by the Pro-ISA protesters at the Anti ISA Forum in Penang yesterday. The forum was organised by Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) Penang in conjunction with 50 years of Internal Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia since 1960.

SUARAM do respect freedom of expression and assembly by the Pro ISA protesters but SUARAM is also expecting a mutual understanding and respects from the Pro ISA protesters on the views and expression of the others. SUARAM believes that everyone in a democratic society should be given an opportunity to discuss any issues in a civil and proper manner and in respect.

We also learnt that, the forum moderator Rozaimin Elias was slapped by one of the protestors when he tried to prevent them from advancing onto the stage. The assault on Rozaimin is unnecessary and it could be avoided if the police took control on the situation. SUARAM condemn the violent act and regrets the non action on part of the police to control the situation.

SUARAM also would like to register its protest on a statement made by the Penang State police Chief Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Ayub Yaakob who has said the organisers did not apply for a police permit to hold the event.

We view the statement from the State Chief is irresponsible as the police is duty bound to protect the rights of all people in any circumstances. Datuk Wira’s statements exposes that his comments are merely to cover up the weaknesses of the police when they failed to control the situation. We wants to remind the Police Chief that, under the Article 10 of Federal Constitution everyone has rights express their views. We urged the police to play a neutral role rather than being biased towards the Pro ISA protesters.

SUARAM is of the view that the ISA is an Act which allows detention without trial as a serious violation of fundamental human rights and the draconian act must be repealed.

Released by,
Nalini.E
SUARAM Coordinator