UPDATE, 13-9-2008: Malaysiakini reports that “Journalist Tan Hoon Cheng was released this afternoon and is now back at her house in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.”
How is Malaysia going to face the world with such draconian acts?
At about 1.00 p.m. today, Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) was arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). If RPK has committed an offence then the Government should charge him in Court. DETENTION OF ANY CITIZEN UNDER ANY PREVENTIVE LAW WITHOUT A FAIR TRIAL CAN NEVER BE JUSTIFIED IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY! All Malaysians should hang our heads low in shame for allowing such a draconian act against a citizen to happen in the 21st Century.
ISA is the most draconian law, which was enacted to curb communism during the period of insurgency in the 1960’s. Such ISA should not be used during peace time and should be repealed forthwith.
At about 8:30 to 8:45 p.m. a Sin Chew Daily’s journalist, Ms Tan Hoon Cheng, was believed to have been arrested at her home in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, and detained under the ISA. Ms Tan is the journalist, who reported the speech of the UMNO Bukit Bendera division’s leader, Datuk Ahmad Ismail, during the Pematang Pauh’s by-election. Published in the Sin Chew Daily, Ms Tan’s report stated that Datuk Ahmad Ismail has allegedly said “the Chinese in the country were immigrants and squatters and did not deserve equal rights.”
It has attracted furor from most, if not all political parties including Gerakan and MCA. Many political parties came out in condemnation of Datuk Ahamd Ismail’s alleged racist remark. After several days later of the condemnation, Datuk Ahmad Ismail claimed that he was misquoted by Sin Chew Daily. The management of Sin Chew Daily issued a press statement in full support of its journalist, Ms Tan Hoon Cheng, and stand by its report on what has been allegedly uttered by Datuk Ahamd Ismail during the Permatang Pauh by-election.
Some time last week, YAB Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, the Prime Minister, directed Datuk Ahmad Ismail to apologise and retract his alleged statement. On 08 September 2008 in the press conference Datuk Ahmad Ismail refused to apologise or retract the alleged statement and his supporters tore up the poster of Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, the acting President of Gerakan, resulting in the Gerakan in Penang severing ties with the UMNO in Penang. 12 UMNO division leaders immediately pledged support for Datuk Ahamd Ismail.
On 10 September 2009 YAB Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, the UMNO President and Prime Minister, announced that UMNO has suspended Datuk Ahmad Ismail from the party for 3 years and stripped him of all post and membership rights. Datuk Ahmad Ismail accepted the suspension but remained defiant as ever. Why were the 12 UMNO division not suspended for supporting Datuk Ahmad Ismail?
Although there were calls for Datuk Ahmad Ismail to be detained under ISA, we must never allow the Government to use ISA against him. The only “crime” that this Sin Chew Daily young journalist has committed was to carry out her job to report what had happened.
Also, just before this post could be published, it was also reported in Malaysiakini that “DAP leader Teresa Kok has also been detained under the Internal Security Act – the third person to be detained without trial today.
“It is learnt that the Selangor senior executive councillor and Seputeh parliamentarian was stopped by the police at about 11.18 p.m. on her way back from a function in Kuala Lumpur.”
Are these three detentions the prelude of many more to come? Another Operation Lalang?
The question for this week then is:
Should a professional journalist or any citizen, who has discharged or is discharging his or her duty be put in constant fear of official intimidation of being detained under the ISA, under the guise of maintaining national security?