Back to the past with Ops Lalang

Suaram or­gan­is­ing pro­gramme to raise aware­ness

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

KUALA LUMPUR: A pro­gramme to re­mind the pub­lic about Ops Lalang and its im­pact on Malaysia is be­ing organised by a coali­tion of civil so­ci­eties in con­junc­tion with the 30th an­niver­sary of the crack­down.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Se­van Do­raisamy said they wanted to raise aware­ness, es­pe­cially among youths, about the op­er­a­tion, de­scrib­ing it as “one of the most se­vere vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights in Malaysian his­tory”.

On Oct 27, 1987, 106 peo­ple, in­clud­ing Op­po­si­tion and Barisan Na­sional politi­cians, aca­demics and lead­ers of non-gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions, were nabbed un­der the In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Act (ISA).

“Ops Lalang had a pro­found im­pact on our demo­cratic sys­tem. It cre­ated a chill­ing ef­fect on civil so­ci­ety and sup­pressed free­dom of ex­pres­sion. Af­ter 30 years, it is im­por­tant to ed­u­cate the younger gen­er­a­tion about what hap­pened and the im­por­tance of do­ing away with laws which al­low de­ten­tion with­out trial,” he said.

Be­sides for­mer de­tainees, Se­van said the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee has sent an of­fi­cial in­vi­ta­tion to for­mer prime min­is­ter Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad to be­come a panel speaker at a pub­lic fo­rum ti­tled “Operasi Lalang 1987: My Side of His­tory”.

Dr Ma­hathir, who was the Home Min­is­ter from 1986 to 1999, had penned the de­ten­tion or­ders.

“We are try­ing to get Dr Ma­hathir and other se­nior of­fi­cials who served at that time. We hope they would say ‘yes’ and turn up, so they can tell their side of the story,” he told re­porters at the Kuala Lumpur and Se­lan­gor Chi­nese As­sem­bly Hall (KLSCAH).

Se­van said the com­mit­tee was also plan­ning to ex­tend an in­vi­ta­tion to for­mer In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of Po­lice Tun Hanif Omar.

Na­tional lau­re­ate A. Sa­mad Said said the pro­gramme also serves as a re­minder that so­ci­ety does not want a re­peat of Ops Lalang or any sim­i­lar op­er­a­tions car­ried out un­der dif­fer­ent co­de­names.

Most of those de­tained dur­ing Ops Lalang in 1987 were re­leased within 60 days, but 40, in­clud­ing veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng (Pe­nang Chief Min­is­ter), sev­eral PAS lead­ers and ac­tivists were held for two years.

The li­cences of three news­pa­pers The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan (which has ceased pub­li­ca­tion) were also with­drawn.

The Star only re­sumed pub­li­ca­tion in March the fol­low­ing year.

The pro­gramme is sched­uled to be held on Oct 28 and 29 at KLSCAH.

Its itin­er­ary in­cludes a shar­ing ses­sion by Ops Lalang vic­tims and fam­ily mem­bers.

The pro­gramme is co-organised by Suaram, Civil Rights Com­mit­tee of KLSCAH, Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democ­racy and KLSCAH Youth.

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