Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When mob rule wins the day

Pro-ISA clash with anti-ISA

I refer to the report “Anti-ISA meet disrupted” that appeared in the Star dated 22 November 2010.

The disruption of an anti-ISA forum by a group of pro-Internal Security Act (ISA) demonstrators in Penang was very regretful. We are told that these pro-ISA demonstrators gate crashed a peaceful gathering of anti-ISA protestors who posed no threat to anybody.

Although no untoward incidents were reported but such actions are dangerous as they can well lead to unnecessary violence. Just as the anti-ISA group, the pro-ISA group also has its rights for peaceful expression of their views. Instead of resorting to such mob-like behavior, the pro-ISA group could have held their own peaceful demonstration elsewhere to air their views on the issue of the ISA.

It is further disappointing that the police made no efforts to stop these protestors from gate-crashing into the premises of the anti-ISA gathering. Why did the police allow the gathering if they had no permit, if at all it was needed? Did the pro-ISA group have a police permit? These are some puzzling questions that right thinking Malaysians want from the police.

Peaceful demonstration to air the views on important issues is the basic right of every citizen. It should be encouraged if we truly mean good for the nation. If the people are not allowed peaceful avenues to express their dissatisfaction, where to they turn to for such expression? How can we progress if we do not allow room for dissent?

The ISA which allows detention without trial is obsolete and history has shown such laws have been abused by those in power all over the world. It might have been useful at the time of the communist insurgency in our country but today what are the threats that still need the use of such draconian news? Who are those who pose real threats to the nation?

The real threat today comes not from outside or from the ordinary citizen struggling to make ends meet. It comes from within, in the form of rampant corruption, racial and religious extremism, uncivil attitude, disregard for law and order and apathy of Malaysians in general who take things for granted. These are the real threats that thwart all efforts to create a united peaceful, harmonious and prosperous nation whose wealth is shared by all citizens.

These may pose serious threats to the development of the nation but they do not need the ISA to check them as there are enough civilized laws to deal with such national threats. What is needed is proper education, good governance and a just enforcement of the laws of the country. What is needed is to nurture the people into useful law-abiding citizens of the country.

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