KUALA LUMPUR: Serious threats made against the organiser of the Chinese Organisations Joint Conference, which was cancelled a day before it was supposed to be held in Kajang yesterday.
The matter was confirmed by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo after he ran a check with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
He said MCMC had forwarded the details and was ready to facilitate police investigations into the threats made against the organiser of the conference.
“The (Federal) Constitution protects our right to assemble and express ourselves peacefully.
“If there are groups, which threaten others from exercising their right to assemble and express themselves peacefully, action should be taken against them (culprits).
“In the case of (United Chinese School Committees’ Association) Dong Zong, serious threats were made against them,” said Gobind, who is Puchong member of parliament, in a statement today.
He urged police and Attorney-General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas to take action against the culprits who had threatened the organiser.
“The power to prosecute lies with the AG and it is for him to now decide what to do after the police complete their investigations.
“I am of the view that action should be taken in this case.
“I therefore hope the police and AG will act in this matter as soon as possible,” he said.
It was reported that the conference, which was scheduled to be held at the New Era University College in Kajang, was cancelled after Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong received a court order from police.
DAP disappointed at police’s different treatment of Jawi and Malay dignity pow-wows
- UPDATE 4.40PM | Additional comments from Lim on gov’t’s position on the Jawi lessons.
DAP expressed its unhappiness today with the police for barring last Saturday’s Chinese Organisations Conference on Jawi but allowing the organisation of the Malay Dignity Congress to proceed two months ago.
“DAP is disappointed with the police that barred the conference held by Dong Zong and Jiao Zong (Dong Jiao Zong) because we believe the freedom of speech in the era of New Malaysia.
“There is no reason why this conference is prohibited when the Malay Dignity Congress was allowed,” DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng told media after attending a financial literacy activity today.
“Some quarters might disagree with the views (of Dong Jiao Zong) but this is one of the aspects of New Malaysia,” he said.
He said the latest development of the Jawi script lesson in vernacular school, including the police treatment, will be discussed in the next cabinet meeting.
“We feel what was done by the police (to obtain the injunction) was incorrect and inappropriate as this wasn’t brought to our attention,” he said.
He also demanded action to be taken against the extreme Malay groups which responded with threats to Dong Jiao Zong’s Jawi conference.
Last Friday, the police obtain a court injunction to bar Dong Jiao Zong from proceeding with Chinese Organisations Conference for safety reasons.
The Oct 6 Malay Dignity Congress, attended by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was accused of spreading racial remark against the non-Malays.
At today’s conference, Lim (above) said the government has no intention to teach Jawi via the three pages of Jawi script lessons in the Year Four Bahasa Malaysia textbook.
He said Jawi has a total of 37 letters while the Bahasa Malaysia Year Four textbook introduced a total of only 14 Jawi letters.
Lim said the inclusion of Jawi script in the Year Four Bahasa Malaysia textbook is merely to introduce the origins of Bahasa Malaysia.
He said nobody should have a say in the Bahasa Malaysia textbook given the special status of the national language.
Despite this, Lim said the government still allowed parents to decide on the Jawi script lesson.
This showed the government has loosened in its stance where the Jawi issue is concerned, he pointed out.
Police ‘impartiality’ in halting Dong Zong congress needs to be questioned
COMMENT | The suppression of the congress by Chinese educationists over the khat issue by the police sadly followed the same strategy we have seen repeatedly over the last few decades.
When the prime minister announced recently that this privately convened congress would, in his logic, lead to opposing rallies by Malay groups, it was the cue for Malay supremacists to spring into action and threaten a demonstration against this congress.
The subsequent action by the police to stop the congress, of around 1,000 members, was a lame attempt to justify a patently undemocratic action to suppress the right of the Chinese educationists to assemble and to discuss the khat issue.
It exposed the lack of professionalism of the police. It showed that the police are incapable of judging the character and “risk” posed by assemblies in the country.
Otherwise, it exposes their plain lack of impartiality in guaranteeing the right to freedom of assembly and the right to freedom of expression under the constitution, giving further suspicion of a “Deep State” pushing a Malay agenda.
This most recent issue is rather like the situation in October 1987 when the Education Ministry decided to appoint (linguistically) non-qualified senior officials in Chinese-medium primary schools.
This was met with consternation by the Chinese community who did not want the character and standards in these schools to be irreparably altered.
To call upon the parties to resolve the issue, the Chinese associations held a rally in the Thean Hou Temple.
This meeting of about 1,000 attendees was orderly and was attended by leaders of the DAP, MCA and Gerakan.
There were no complaints from the police regarding the peaceful conduct of the meeting nor were there any racially offensive speeches uttered by the speakers.
However, in mid-October 1987, Umno Youth staged a rally of several thousand at the Jalan Raja Muda Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
At this rally, several leading Umno politicians, including a cabinet minister (who later became prime minister) made racially provocative statements. Banners bearing flagrantly racist and repulsive slogans such as, “Bathe this (keris) in Chinese blood”, among others, were blatantly displayed.
The police allowed such a rally to proceed and there were no arrests made on those who displayed such racially obnoxious banners.
As if this was not enough, Umno decided to call for a 500,000-strong rally in Kuala Lumpur at the end of October that year and the daily rabble-rousing raised the racial tension in the capital.
Somehow, the police must have been confident about being able to control such a huge rally because they did not oppose the organising of this rally.
This artificially charged atmosphere was the excuse for then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to unleash Operation Lalang when more than a 100 innocent Malaysians (including the author), who had nothing to do with the Thean Hou Temple meeting, were detained under the ISA.
During the interminable interrogations by the Special Branch, their officers tried to justify our detention by saying that the Thean Hou Temple congress had offended the Malay supremacists in the country and raised the racial temperature in the country.
Were the police powerless in that situation?
My retort to the Special Branch interrogators was that surely the limits to the freedom of expression must lie not only where it trespasses upon racial sensitivities but also where the police feel confident of keeping law and order.
In the particular incident at the stadium, the flaunting of racially objectionable banners and speeches clearly showed that the police had no control unless they condoned it.
And if they could not manage a few thousand people there, how could they even contemplate allowing the proposed Umno anniversary rally of some 500,000 to take place?
By not disallowing this massive rally plan outright, the police had allowed the racial tension to build up and this provided the perfect justification for the ISA swoop on Mahathir’s key dissidents.
APCET was another instance of police partiality
In 1996, the police’s partiality was blatantly visible in their handling of the APCET conference at Asia Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
On Nov 9, 1996, NGO Concerned Malaysian organised the Second Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timor in the Asia Hotel to seek a peaceful solution to the East Timor problem.
East Timor had been illegally occupied by Indonesian forces and brutally oppressed since 1975.
The BN government, under Mahathir and his deputy Anwar Ibrahim, were against the holding of this conference because they did not want to upset the Indonesian government.
We carried on regardless since we believed, as with other justice-loving people around the world, that the East Timorese deserved their right to self-determination.
Besides, this conference was held as a private event in a hotel, not a public space.
Soon after the conference began, a 600-strong mob led by the youth wings of the ruling BN coalition stormed the hotel and violently disrupted the conference, holding the local and foreign participants under a state of siege.
The police arrived late by a whole hour to stop the violence and threats by this mob. They prevented the conference participants from leaving the conference hall but after several hours arrested 59 participants “for not dispersing”.
They were locked up under Section 117 of the Criminal procedure Code. Twenty-eight were released the following day but the others were given two-day and four-day remand orders by the magistrate.
The detainees included NGO activists, students, local as well as foreign journalists.
There was connivance between the police and the mainly Umno mobsters since the Special Branch operatives were present very early that morning at the hotel.
The mobsters, numbering a few hundred, were allowed to storm and harass the conference speakers and organisers. The police themselves were uncharacteristically late by an hour to stop the mobsters.
To add salt to injury, we, the peace-seeking people, were thrown in jail while the mobsters who threatened the participants with violence were let off scot-free.
No rule of law while ‘Deep State’ dictates
The leaders of these mobsters who disrupted our peaceful conference included Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (below), the current minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs.
We do not expect the prime minister to provide us with an idea of how the so-called “Deep State” operates at that level.
However, I believe Saifuddin and the PM-indeterminate Anwar Ibrahim can illuminate the circumstances and manner by which the police and Special Branch disrupted the APCET conference and detained us.
The October 1987 affair and APCET 1996 are but two incidents where we can see the blatant partiality of the police.
The inconsistent behaviour of the police has to be read in their collusion with the so-called “Deep State” in Malaysia. This collusion has to go back to the May 13 incident and the hidden hands behind the New Economic Policy and the Malay Agenda.
As long as this “Deep State” exists to dictate what should be allowed and disallowed in this country, the rule of law will be deemed redundant and there will be no access to the fundamental liberties that are guaranteed in our constitution.
KUA KIA SOONG is Suaram adviser.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.
Commenting on the court order prohibiting Chinese educationist group Dong Zong from holding a conference on the introduction of Jawi in vernacular schools, Hamid said he believed police applied for the order on security grounds.
“It is better for the conference to be cancelled or reorganised in a way that would not touch on the emotions and sentiments of other people. I hold firmly to the principles of democracy. The people are free to voice their views but within safe parameters.
“If there are elements of provocation, police are the most qualified to make an assessment. As the inspector-general of police, I have no hidden agenda to stop the conference. I do not play politics,” he said.
DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang said police now have a greater responsibility to also act against those who have threatened a closed-door meeting on the implementation of three-pages of Jawi in the Standard Four Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.
Police obtained an injunction against the gathering organised by the United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) which is opposed to the implementation on grounds that it could cause unrest.
“Police have now a greater responsibility to show they are even-handed and take action against those who had completely without cause threatened unrest over the closed-door Dong Zong meeting,” he said in a statement today.
Some Malay groups had threatened to confront the Dong Zong gathering if it proceeded, including Angkatan Gerak Minda Malaysia (Agra) led by Bersatu Youth exco member Mohd Ashraf Mustaqim Badrul Munir.
“The police should not have banned the Dong Zong closed-door meeting over the Jawi issue in Chinese and Tamil primary schools although the police were under intense pressure because of irresponsible and incendiary threats by extremist quarters.
“As I have said earlier, while Vision 2020 will not be achieved next year which would begin in four days’ time, let more and more Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region, try to be Banga Malaysia and resolve the crisis over the Jawi issue in a peaceful and consensual Malaysian manner,” he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Penang Chief Minister II P Ramasamy said the Kajang police’s move to obtain a court order against the Dong Zong’s gathering on grounds of racial tension was “regrettable”.
“This was a kind of over-imaginative enterprise without any real basis but brought about by the Malay right groups who threatened that if the Chinese congress proceeded, there might be chaos in the country.
“The police, rather than taking action against the perpetrators of false and hate news, took the easy way out by seeking a court to cancel the congress,” he said in a statement.
“Really, nothing would have happened if the in-door congress had taken place. There was nothing racial or incendiary about the proposed congress. It was all about discussing the introduction of Jawi script in vernacular schools, the role of the parent-teacher associations, the school boards and other issues.”
Ramasamy said the ban happened under the Pakatan Harapan government which had promised openness and freedom.
He also blamed Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for casting aspersions on the gathering.
“The Dong Zong congress on Jawi script would not have gathered so much opposition if the prime minister had not cast negative aspersions,” he said.
“His remark that the Chinese congress might give rise to serious opposition amongst the Malays could have possibly emboldened the Malay right-wing groups to launch their racist attacks against Dong Zong.
“In these attacks, some of them went too far by invoking the repeat of the racial riots of May 13, 1969.
“I am not saying that police should not have sought a court ban, but they should have studied the matter further before they pressed the panic button.”