Monday, August 03, 2009

Anti-ISA rally an embarrassment for the govt.

A day of shame for the nation as it turns 52

What happened on the streets of Kuala Lumpur on August 1st 2009 has brought shame to the nation. A country which was once highly respected in the world, instead of going forwards to join the ranks of the other advanced democracies has instead seem to be moving backwards to the era of barbarism and lawlessness.

As the country is preparing to celebrate its 52nd year of independence, the high handed police action against peaceful demonstrators and respected opposition leaders is indeed a blow to our democracy that we have been boasting to the world. The images of civilians and prominent leaders of the opposition being manhandled and beaten by the police were quickly flashed by the international media to be viewed around the world brought embarrassment for all Malaysians. Imagine witnessing unarmed civilians and prominent leaders being chased around and beaten by the police on the streets of our capital in open daylight and watched by millions around the globe on television.

Despite the heavy police presence and road blocks, thousands of people of all races and walks of life came out in droves calling for the repeal of the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA).It was one of the rare occasions where people put aside their racial differences to unite as Malaysians. Among them were respected civil rights and Opposition leaders who represent 50% of the population. Why should the people take to the streets, risking their lives, if the government had provided an alternate platform to engage them?

Why can’t they be allowed to have an audience with their King to submit a memorandum in a peaceful way? Why can’t they be invited for a civil and cordial dialogue by the Prime Minister and his ministers? Is this what 1Malaysia is all about, beating up those who oppose the government? Is this the type of democracy that we can be proud of?

When thousands of criminals are roaming our streets and neighborhoods creating fear and terror among the people, our police force seems to busy forcefully suppressing peaceful anti-ISA protesters with tear gas and water cannons and playing cat and mouse game with them on the streets. We are told the police have arrested nearly 600 protesters which is not something to be proud about. Imagine the magnitude of the manpower utilized to put down this peaceful demonstration.

It is further disappointing that in an immediate response to the thousands who were marching to demand to abolish the ISA; ministers have wowed not to give in to the demands of the people. If they don’t want to listen to the people whom will they listen to I wonder? Doesn’t their attitude show a total lack of respect for the people?

Since the last general elections the people have repeatedly indicated in no uncertain terms that they want change. If the Barisan Nasional (BN) wants to remain in power they have to listen to the people who desire liberty and respect for individual rights. There is no point talking about change and reforms but do nothing about it.

The BN must realize that they cannot continue to rule by suppressing the people for long.That era is over. It must now change and accommodate the opposition and other critics in consultation and dialogue as it cannot continue to administer the country alone in this era of sophistication and globalization. It has to tap the potentials of all Malaysians regardless of their race, religion, social standing and political ideology. It must engage not confront the people and the Opposition which was legitimately voted by them.

Prime Minister Najib has proposed a 1Malaysia concept and it must not remain just a fanciful slogan, like many others before, but one that will create a situation where every citizen will have equal place and opportunities under the Malaysian sun. It should realize the dreams of every Malaysian who yearns to be respected as a legitimate and patriotic citizen of this land. If the people hate the ISA so much and want it abolished so be it, why be adamant, deny their rights and persecute them?

Dr.Chris Anthony

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