Don’t Be Intimidated: Oppose the Perak Power Grab

Commentary By Dr. Lim Teck Ghee (Centre for Policy Initiatives)

CPI expresses its strong condemnation of the arrest yesterday evening of Wong Chin Huat for alleged sedition by the police authorities.  The police action is clearly aimed at intimidating civil society organizations and the public into passivity and acceptance of the power grab in Perak by the Barisan Nasional. 

Earlier on Tuesday morning, a coalition of civil society organizations had conducted a press conference to protest the actions of the BN government.  The group which included Wong Chin Huat, Sivarasa Rasiah, Tony Pua, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Teo Nie Ching and myself had called for a peaceful public demonstration of opposition to the takeover through the symbolic act of wearing black on 7 May.  More than 20 members of the media were at the press conference. Besides the press release which has been made publicly available, there are tape recordings of the impromptu presentations made by the representatives of the organizations taking part in the event.

All the speeches made at the press conference are easily obtainable.  All the speakers spoke responsibly of the right of Malaysians to participate in free and fair elections – a central concern of BERSIH, the coalition of over 70 NGOs initiating the 1BLACK MALAYSIA protest event.  There were no inflammatory words used; no attempts at incitement or any other action that can be remotely construed to give even a semblance of legitimacy to the police action.
There is not an iota of evidence to charge Chin Huat or any of the other speakers under the sedition or any other law or regulation in the country.  The police action smacks of an unreformed and authoritarian political system, desperate to cling to power by whatever means, and utilizing the police and other agencies of the state to coerce and browbeat the Malaysian public into acceptance of its power grab, and other acts of mis-governance.  
In my remarks at the press conference, I reminded that it is the right of every Malaysian to question and to oppose the Barisan Nasional's actions in Perak.  I pointed out that there is a massive BN propaganda campaign to legitimize its actions and to paint the opposing groups as guilty of fomenting discord and strife. Charges of being treasonous and of being traitors to the country are being levelled against those questioning and opposing the Perak Government takeover. My message to the media journalists gathered there was that "the media owners may pay your salaries but they do not own your mind and your soul" and I urged them to report fairly on this important struggle of Malaysians to exercise their basic political rights.
Finally I warned that this will not be the last of the dirty tricks by the BN to hold on to power, and noted that the " the real enemies of the state are those who condone  and cover up arbitrary or illegal acts."  The public should regard the arrest of Chin Huat as another round in the salvo of BN dirty tricks and should show that it is not cowed by wearing black on 7 May.