Tomorrow marks the 25th anniversary of Operation Lalang which brought about the darkest days for democracy and human rights in the nation’s history.
There was not only the arrest of 106 Malaysians, including opposition leaders – 16 of whom were from the DAP, including MPs and State Assemblymen – trade unionists, social activists, environmentalists, Chinese educationists and religious workers, there was also the wholesale attacks on press freedom with the closure of three newspapers, the merciless attacks on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law resulting in the sacking of the Lord President and two Supreme Court judges and the series of undemocratic legislation which caused a tectonic shift in the Malaysian political landscape, subordinating the legislative and judicial branches to the Executive or to be more exact to the fiat of one person, the Prime Minister of the day.
The Government Transformation Programme of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has promised to make Malaysia “the best democracy of the world”, but after more than 42 months of his premiership, Malaysia falls far short of the conditions to be a “normal democracy” let alone the “world’s best democracy”, as illustrated by the refusal by the Prime Minister and the ruling UMNO/BN coalition to make a public commitment that they would fully accept the verdict of the voters in the 13th General Election and would peacefully and smoothly transfer Federal power to Pakatan Rakyat if this is the verdict of the Malaysian electorate in the ballot box.
It is clear that a change of government at the national level, for the first time in 55 years, is needed to undo all the ravages and adverse effects of the 25-year Operation Lalang on democracy, human rights and the national institutions – whether it be the restoration of a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law; the unshackling of Executive usurpation of powers of Parliament and the Judiciary; the flourishing of a free and responsible media and the fundamental rights of freedom of speech, expression and information; proper check-and-balance mechanisms to end corruption and abuses of power; and the restoration to all national institutions their impartiality, independence and professionalism.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Operation Lalang, let all Malaysians reaffirm their resolve to undo all the ravages of the Operation Lalang catastrophe in 1987 by a united effort to strengthen democracy, human rights and national institutions so that there could be no recurrence of a Operation Lalang in future by voting solidly for a national change of government in the coming general election.