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Saturday, October 27, 2007

It was 20 years ago today...

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... and no, this post has got nothing to do with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, or even music...

Ops Lalang - that other black mark in our history when the ISA was used to silence political opposition - happened exactly 20 years ago today.

Image taken from, hosting by PhotobucketAt the time, Walski was not living in Malaysia, and only got to know about it some weeks later via news clippings that his dad sent him via snail mail. You didn't have the lightning fast viral news dissemination of the Internet back then.

So, in effect, Walski doesn't really have anything useful or interesting to add, other than what you can read on Wikipedia.

For a while, there was some fear of a second Ops Lalang, late last year after the UMNO General Assembly, which was telecast live for the first - and likely last - time. That fear, fortunately, did not come to pass.

But as long as laws, like the Internal Security Act (ISA) exists, there will always be that shadow of a threat looming over the heads of all Malaysians - speak out, and risk getting free room and board at Kamunting for an undisclosed amount of time...

Speaking of the ISA, the hubbub of late has been the award by the courts to former ISA detainee Abdul Malek Hussin in his suit against the Government, against his unlawful arrest and torture while in detention. The full-text of this landmark judgement can be read at Elizabeth Wong's blog.

In conjuction with today being the 20th anniversary of Ops Lalang, GMI (Gerakan Mansuh ISA) held a forum earlier today, in the form of a mock trial. The accused? The ISA itself - represented by a black cardboard cut-out.
(Mr. ISA on trial, and more, in the full post)

Malaysiakini, reporting on the mock trial, which was conducted this morning at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur, stated that the Ops Lalang detiainees still feel some bitterness, twenty years on.

Image taken from Malaysiakini, hosting by PhotobucketTwo decades after the Ops Lalang sweep, detainees still speak bitterly of having being detained without trial - some for over two years - under the ISA.

Ordered by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the mass arrest of opposition politicians, trade unionists, activists and Chinese educationists is now widely described as having severely curtailed the nation’s civil liberties and judicial independence.

Mr. ISA in the dock
In a form of theatrical tit-for-tat, ‘Mr ISA’ – in the form of a black cardboard printout – was put in the dock for being an “affront to humanity and basic right to freedom” in a forum held in the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall this morning.

Judging the proceedings were detainees and the lawyers who represented them. The attending public members acted as jurors. The forum was organised by Suaram.

(source: Malaysiakini - subscription required)

Needless to say, Mr. ISA was found guilty.

Any civil society would - a draconian piece of legislation, remnants of colonial rule, retained in the law books as a convenient tool when the due process of the law proves to be "too cumbersome" for the ruling government.

Like May 13, 1969, today should be remembered, as one of those ugly kinks in history that only we, the people can ensure will never ever happen again...