Dr M undermined country’s institutions, says Kit Siang

By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — Charging Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with “emasculating” all democratic institutions, Lim Kit Siang has claimed it was illogical that the former prime minister had to bow to the wishes of the police.

Dr Mahathir has recently claimed that he capitulated to then police chief Tun Hanif Omar, who insisted on the 1987 Internal Security Act (ISA) crackdown known as Ops Lalang and opposed the government’s plans to abolish the law that provides for detention without trial.

In an interview with The Malaysian Insider, DAP advisor Lim, who was one of 106 swept up in the dragnet, said that with “a whole series of institutions being undermined,” Ops Lalang could not have taken place against Dr Mahathir’s wishes.

“What Mahathir was doing cannot just be seen in terms of Ops Lalang. At that time, a whole series of institutions were being undermined, including the police and judiciary,” the DAP parliamentary leader said ahead of his 70th birthday this Sunday.

Lim, whose son Guan Eng was also one of those detained in 1987, claimed that Dr Mahathir was happy enough to amend constitutions and sack judges, and Ops Lalang “cannot be the sole isolated case as he was at his most powerful.”
Dr Mahathir maintains Ops Lalang was a police initiative.
As Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, Dr Mahathir’s government had made two major constitutional amendments.

The first in 1988 had divested power from the courts and granted it judicial power only as Parliament granted it. Another in 1993 curbed the legal immunity and other powers of the Malay rulers.

“The Election Commission was long ago subservient and subordinate and so was the civil service. There was no reason for any of the detentions under Ops Lalang, except for the political powerplay that it entailed,” the Ipoh Timur MP added.

Dr Mahathir had also claimed he had met opposition leaders before the operation and assured them that they would not be arrested.

He insisted that he had not thought it necessary to arrest the opposition leaders but had no choice but to accept that the police believed otherwise.