What is this country coming to?


Will the rakyat be able to survive the power of the police – and that of the State, wonders Kee Thuan Chye

What is this country coming to? Many Malaysians are asking this question in view of the numerous actions taken by the police over the past week. 


First, they arrested 30 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members, including MP for Sungai Siput Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, and are now investigating them for resurrecting Communism and waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. While on their way to a Bersih roadshow in Penang, they were arrested in Kepala Batas and found to have in their possession T-shirts bearing faces of Chin Peng and Rashid Maidin. They have been remanded for seven days.

Communism? That’s crazy talk. The Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) is long dead and gone. Chin Peng and Rashid Maidin are geriatrics. The party disbanded in 1989 after signing a peace treaty with the Malaysian Government, and its members were allowed to reside in Malaysia if they chose to do so. After 22 years of its being defunct and virtually forgotten, why is Communism still a threat today?

And if it were – by some stretch of the imagination – are we to believe that this threat is manifest in these 30 PSM members among whom 14 are women, the oldest aged 64?

A friend of mine who was at the court in Penang when the 30 were brought in told me they were just “a motley crew” of people who didn’t look like they would carry a stick to fight, much less wage war against the Agong. “When I saw that, my faith in the system hit rock-bottom,” he said.

Kumar doesn’t deserve this

“And to see Jeyakumar in handcuffs was too much,” he added. “He alone is worth many of our people in power put together. Top scorer in exams, a doctor, a man who has dedicated his life to helping poor people – he doesn’t deserve this.”

Like my friend, I too knew Jeyakumar while at school. He was one year my junior at the Penang Free School, and I remember him well as a thoughtful, gentle person. He was soft-spoken, cerebral, and humble despite his well-to-do background.

I find it hard to believe that someone like him would wage war against the Agong. Only someone stupid or deranged would consider doing that. He might be a socialist, but that’s a far cry from being a Communist. Don’t the police and the Government know the difference? To all intents and purposes, he is probably someone who transcends labels and merely cares for the poor.

And why remand him and the others for a week? The High Court has since upheld this decision and said it is correct. Justice Zamani A Rahim said the case was serious. “It involves the security of the country, of everyone – you and me and our children.” These 30 people are so dangerous that they are a threat to us and our children?

Reading a poem can be seditious?

Case number 2: Sasterawan Negara (National Laureate) A Samad Said was called in by the police and told he was being investigated for sedition because he had read part of a poem at the Bersih launch on June 19.