Saturday, September 13, 2008

We, the People of Malaysia

"Give to every human being every right that you claim for yourself."

Robert Ingersoll

There is fear out on the streets now. The headlines we now see are preludes to something monstrous awaiting to launch this country into the worst times of her history. An animal is most dangerous when it has been pushed into a corner and is forced to fight for its survival. It is then foolish to continue pushing it in such unsubtle and direct fashion - and more so when that animal is a big one and has a large gun it isn't afraid to point at its tormentors.

The Internal Security Act (ISA) is that gun. For those who are a little sketchy about what it really is, I'll explain; it is a preventive detention law in force in Malaysia and it allows the arrest and detention of any person without the need for trial for a maximum period of 2 years, which can be renewed indefinitely. That's a whole lot of raw power, politic-wise. Having it in the hands of a person, or a fraternity of people from the same party who have an understandable personal agenda of staying in power, it's pretty much the Hand of God. Just dial a number and it reaches down and smite whosoever that stands in the wielder's way. We have witnessed its use in the past under the flimsiest of pretexts but of late, it seemed to have abandoned the need of pretexts even and is used under whatever crime the accuser wants the victim to be guilty of.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, founder and editor of the popular Malaysian news blog, Malaysia Today, was detained for the second time under the ISA on the 12th of September 2008 (yesterday, yes), for allegedly insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad - whether RPK, who is Muslim himself and has a sizable Muslim readership, really did do what was accused of him or that involving the faith is just a convenient way of calling the automatic outrage of Malaysia's Muslim population onto RPK's head and ensuring that people don't ask awkward questions like "Evidence?" (thus discouranging a deeper look into the validity of the arrest), is a matter up for debate.

On the same day, Tan Hoon Cheng, the journalist from Sin Chew Jit Poh who had reported on the Ahmad Ismail inflammatory speech in which he labelled the Chinese population of Malaysia as squatters (and therefore, not entitled to rights), was also arrested under the ISA for, from what I can garner, absolutely no reason at all. What elevated this arrest to the zenith of ridiculousness is the fact that Datuk Ahmad Ismail, the then-chief of the Bukit Bendera division of UMNO who made that remark, who refused to apologise for it despite urgings from the Prime Minister and the Deputy, who called a press conference demanding an apology for being asked to apologise, who likened the Chinese to American Jews, who threatened to shoot the reporter who reported his speech, who then, in the same press conference, tore down the picture of his state leader and proceeded to smash it to pieces, only got off with a three-year suspension from UMNO.

A few hours after Tan's arrest, the ISA hammer descended on Teresa Kok, assemblywoman for Kinrara, for allegedly submitting a petition to a mosque in Puchong to lower down the volume of the azan, the Islamic call to prayer. She didn't submit said petition. In fact, the petition didn't say anything about the Azan at all (a copy HERE) - it's only a request for the reducing of the speakers' volume during the Ceramah, the Kuliah Subuh and Kuliah Maghrib. Why does any issue concerning religion immediately illicit such ignorant knee-jerk reactions and outcry without even the semblance of an attempt at trying to understand that the issue at hand isn't really a religious matter at all?

The inherent evil that ties all these arrests together is the ISA which, I shall say again, is as close to absolute power as anything is in this country - and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Anyone can be imprisoned and silenced indefinitely under it without trial and, as we have witnessed in recent days, without even reasons at all. Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, our Prime Minister, said that "The government will not use ISA without concrete reason" and his words rang pathetically hollow in my ears. Where is Justice? I ask this without anger or outrage. I ask this because I lament the fact that I can no longer see it. Where is Justice? Where is it now?

The ISA is a violation against human rights and when I say "human rights", I am referring to the rights of all Malaysians, of all the people living in this world. It's not a violation of the rights of the Chinese people. It's not a violation of the rights of the Malays, or Indians or whatsoever ethnicity that fate has ordained you to belong to. It's a violation of OUR rights, OUR rights as human beings. Maybe the ISA has not touched you. Maybe the ISA is just this semi-real threat which only happens to "other people". Or maybe you just agree with the government's initiative of arresting these "seditious malcontents" in the name of National Security. One day, when you cease to agree with the person who controls the government, or when someone whose policies you feel are unable to consent to takes power - you'll find that the ISA is very real, very wrong, and knows exactly where you live.

There are people from certain quarters who can simultaneously condemn the ISA for being the evil tool of tyranny it is - while calling for its warped brand of justice onto the likes of Datuk Ahmad Ismail. This is hypocrisy. This is "doublethink" at its finest. George Orwell, when he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four, coined the term to describe the act of accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as being simultaneously correct, conforming to either when the situation calls for it. I do not want the ISA to be pointed at anyone. I want it to be destroyed. It hasn't reached my family, my friends or me yet - but I don't want to wait till it does. Why then, people of Malaysia, are you waiting?

People have speculated that the recent slew of arrests under the ISA are just baits. The people behind them wants people to come out and protest, to make a whole lot of hoohah which, after all is said and done, would do not an inch of good for both us and the detainees. What it'll probably do is give an excuse to the government to enforce Emergency laws in the face of imminent mass unrest and to consolidate their power. The events of these days are bearing more than a passing similarity to those leading up to the Tragedy of May 13 - and it was a TRAGEDY, people, for everyone regardless of race or creed.

Communicate your disappointment and discontentment through safer channels and with discretion. Speak through your blogs, on the internet, on this very last inch of our freedom because it is of utmost importance that people do not remain ignorant of the rotten state of our country. I am here to say, and I believe I speak for everyone; I do not care which party rule my country, be it Barisan Nasional, the Opposition or whatever. The only thing I care about is that that party do right by the people of Malaysia.

P.S. I will vote in the next General Election.

k0k s3n w4i


bevE said...

read latur. if i bother.

(i'm sure no need to say by now whether i read ur blog or not. u're just THAT boring. :D)

(eh kenapa ur sis no more komen?)

i'm going out to bookstore now and getting the books u recomm'ed. iron dragon's daughter, the name of the wind, lies of locke lamora. anything else text me ya.

Zzzyun said...

yeah i cant believe myself when i heard the news this morning. that 3 ppl were already detained under the ISA. it is understandable why Raja Petra was detained... but why Teresa Kok or the poor journalist?

yes especially the journalist. coz he did nothing wrong except report the truth. isnt that what journalists are supposed to do? or else why do we read newspapers anyway?

in 1987's Operasi Lalang, even thought many ppl were put under ISA, not a single journalist was included.

coz that is their duty to report the truth. omg i'm so disappointed. sigh.

and i really hope all msians will not be so enraged over this and start protesting or rioting. coz this is hardly good for everyone of us rakyat!!

Ai-Ling said...

well written :)

fuolornis said...

i seriously can't wait for sept 16. Hope the 'dream' comes true

Betsy said...

Dad always tells me your biggest flaw is you live in your own world without knowing the latest news. See, you prove him wrong xD

beve: Me??

ericG said...

Malaysia is a nice place to live in...minus the appalling political scenes

fubi said...

beve: iron dragon's daughter not nice!!! T^T dun care wht po says. i stil dun get d story. mayb im just that thick >_> u read 4urself.