Kit Siang: ‘Renewed’ and ‘committed’ to fight ISA

By Melissa Chi | The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — For Lim Kit Siang, a veteran politician popularly known for his no-holds-barred rhetoric, the one most painful experience from his detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) was having his freedom capped.

The DAP adviser’s only freedom had come in tiny doses and during those difficult days and his only comfort came from being allowed to wear his own clothes and to take short jogs around the secured compound to keep himself active.

When relating his story recently, Lim told The Malaysian Insider that it was really during his 35-month confinement under the ISA that he truly started to value his freedom.

“Freedom is the most precious thing, it is not tangible, something only when you lose, you’ll cherish it,” said Lim, who was detained on two separate occasions in 1969 and 1987.

He noted that it was the provision in the law that allowed for detention without trial that truly hampered a person’s freedom.

“It could really put a strain on a person’s belief and conviction. It is also extremely tough on the families. I would say that for most detainees, their families would go through great trauma,” the Ipoh Timur MP said.

Lim explained that the families had to adjust to the fact that they can only see the detainee once a week for such a short amount of time.

“For some, it is even harder for they would have to travel quite a distance just to spend a half hour with their loved one,” he said.

During his first detention in 1969, Lim’s family was living in Batu Pahat, Johor, which is about 32 miles from the Muar Detention Centre.

“Also, we are often kept in the dark. Most of the detained would not be informed of their release date and would only look forward to the 24th month of their detention to know if they would be released of have their terms extended,” he said.

He noted that in both cases of his detention, he was only informed of his release on the very day itself.

“Of course, I did not believe it (at first). I was a shocking, but pleasant experience,” the veteran politician said.

In 1969, Lim was detained under the ISA for 17 months for making “insensitive statements” and creating “disharmony to the state”.

He was sent to the Muar Detention Centre, which does not exist anymore.

Ten years later, he was convicted of five charges under Official Secrets Act (OSA) for exposing an inappropriate arms deal between the government and a Swiss company. He was again a victim of the ISA during the infamous Operasi Lalang in 1987 for “inciting racism” and was held without trial for 18 months at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak.

His two-time detention did nothing to dampen Lim’s fighting spirit however and instead, the 69-year-old said it had made him more resilient to fighting for a “better Malaysia”.

He said that his experiences had not wavered in his conviction, but rather reaffirmed his stance toward abolishing the preventive laws.

“In my case, I felt more renewed and committed [to fight for a] better Malaysia and not to allow all these undemocratic and repressive measure,” he said.

“It is pernicious, undemocratic and also opens to all sorts of abuses and should be abolished,” Lim said of the Act.

Lim’s sentiments were echoed by local as well as international human rights groups and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

He said there are talks about the amendments and the promise to table it at the Parliament but he said it had yet to happen.

The government had announced its plans to table amendments to six preventive laws including the ISA 1960, Emergency Ordinance (EO) Act 1969 and the Police Act 1967 this year, and has promised that the tweaks would better protect human rights and prevent abuse of power.

The proposed amendments have been approved by the Attorney-General’s Chambers for presentation to the Cabinet soon.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop had said that the amendments to the laws would involve five primary aspects including ministerial powers, the shortening of detention periods, police powers, rights and treatment of detainees and the abolition of several sections in the ISA.

Abu Seman, however, confirmed that these laws would only be amended and not abolished.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein had said that the changes to the ISA would include the right to hold peaceful assemblies.

The most recent incident in relation to that was on August 1, 2009 when 589 people were arrested on the day of the rally, including 44 children and 40 women. Out of the total, 498 people were released on the same day and 91 were held at the Bukit Jalil Police Station, according to Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)’s memorandum to Suhakam.

On April 3, 2009, the day Datuk Seri Najib Razak took office as Prime Minister, he announced the removal of bans on two opposition newspapers, Suara Keadilan and Harakah, run by PKR and PAS respectively, and the release of 13 people held under the ISA.

He pledged to conduct a comprehensive review of the much-criticized law which allows for indefinite detention without trial. These promises had garnered support locally and abroad, and earned him goodwill.

Lim, however, reiterated that the ISA should be abolished. He pointed out that since the government had been holding on to the excuse of terrorism, there should be a specific terrorism act, and do away with such an “open-ended” act such as ISA.

“It had stunted the democratic growth… creating a culture of fear,” he said of the ISA, since its inception 50 years ago.

Lim said a greater public pressure from all sectors of society would add pressure to the government to abolish the act.

“Those in power at present should take seriously of such charges,” he said.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Sunday, 1 August 2010 - 2:21 pm

    Lim Kit Siang and hundreds more suffered detentions for speaking out against the government and exposing corruptions.
    Malaysians have spoken against ISA in 12th GE…and waiting for serious arrests on corruptions.
    ISA stays as UMNO B needs all sorts of protections…which makes UMNO B .. the most unfair and unjust government..undemocratic government.
    It boils down to shutting mouths that dares to speak out against CORRUPTIONS.
    However..there is double standards applied too.
    If you are an UMNO B member speaking out against corruptions or race discrimination…UMNO B dare not arrest their own member.
    They dare not offend to loose one UMNO B vote…that’s what the think…so much so..they are exposing what cunning hypocrites.. these rouges are.
    Without sufferings…there is no awakening…no realizations to the truths.
    Some woke up and realized and got cold feet and submit to be running dogs or retire from politics.
    One like Lim Kit Siang woke and realized he has to sacrifice his life for Malaysians to be free.
    I guess you can again say….God does work in mysterious ways…to help us by not taking sides.
    By opening our subconscious minds…to choose our path..and live with it…as we asked for it.
    I hope Soi Lek and Tsu Khoon are very proud LKS was punished by their UMNO B masters..but People Power will be the ultimate deciders…not politicians..anymore.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Sunday, 1 August 2010 - 4:23 pm

    When is the pm going to reply to the open letter above?
    By the way, why not increase the prices of ALL foodstuff so that the rakyat can be forced to eat less, and hence reduce the obesity rate in the country? Look at the North Koreans, no money to buy food and hence no fatsos among them.

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Sunday, 1 August 2010 - 4:41 pm


    I wish you and other former ISA detainees have the chance to sue the government for wrongful detention one day. That makes the government think carefully before invoking ISA on someone, or else it risks paying hefty compensation to the detainee in the end.

  4. #4 by frankyapp on Sunday, 1 August 2010 - 6:10 pm

    I think there’s no need to take revenge.The best thing the malaysian voters can do for all the ISA detainees is vote in PR to control Putra Jaya and see PR’s first main task to annoucing the repeal of the ISA act and at the same time releasting all political detainees under this un-called for act. In the next general election I hope voters must feel duty bound to come all out to vote for true democracy and freedom as I think 53 years under Umno/BN’s dragonian rule is enough. Freedom means the people have the power to do,say and think or write whatever one wants to,hence malaysians must give such freedom a chance to move forward and help to devolop malaysia into a well progressive,advance country and beyond with other countries within the globalised world.

  5. #5 by c730427 on Sunday, 1 August 2010 - 6:49 pm

    If PKR takes over the government, I wonder if the new government will use ISA to punish Tun M, Najib, Ibrahim Ali, IPK Musa, MP Hii and many others?

  6. #6 by Thor on Sunday, 1 August 2010 - 7:58 pm

    Abolished ISA???
    Over UMNO’s dead bodies!!!

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 1 August 2010 - 8:35 pm

    ISA is the BN’s trump or Joker card.

    When everything else fails, they use it.

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 1:28 am

    Polis tak suka candlelight vigil by peaceful anti-ISA Malaysians, tangkap, Y ah?

  9. #9 by monsterball on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 2:41 am

    No c730427…PKR will abolish ISA and arrest all for CORRUPTIONS.
    As we write….10 are arrested under ISA for speaking against the Free Speech Square in Penang.
    UMNO cop said…you can speak anything….but not against the government.
    That’s so call free speech square for all.
    Why does a great and fantastic good government needs so much protections?
    Protections from police …laws ISA…and promoting/advertising how good they are in papers and TVs….day in day out…one sided news only.
    All that proves CORRUPTIONS and murders exposed are all true.
    If not…why UMNO B needs so much protections….knowing that will make them loose more votes than getting confidence fro Malaysians.
    And that message is also read by Foreign investors now…keeping away from Najib’s government.
    Najib have created so many first.
    Looks like the whole world and vast majority Malaysians know him too well.

  10. #10 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 7:34 am

    The UMNO Information chief clearly shows HIS Group’s interests in preserving their quota! He isn’t interested in helping the real poor Malays only the rich. Why can’t he counter propose that the discounted amount be used to help the hardcore poors nationwide!! These are the characters “fighting for NATIONAL INTERESTS!!!!??? The sad thing is the hardworking middle class malays allow such logic to be offered as sensitive issue?Bollock!

  11. #11 by undertaker888 on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 8:11 am

    ISA in a sense is good for fighting extremism. But to use it like what umnonites are using it to protect themselvess from losing power, it is plain wrong. ISA should not be abolished, we should abolish those who misuse it.

    I believe when pr in power, if there is any extremism like the one in a hotel in India, ordinary measures just wouldnt work. they would have used ISA.

    But in bolehland, with umnonites goons who do not know laws but good at counting ringgits, ISA is a tool of convenience to hide their unlawful works.

  12. #12 by rahmanwang on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 9:46 am

    Do not abandon ISA because when Pakatan Rakyat takes Putrajaya in the 13 GE, Barisan Nasional will definitely start rioting.We should urge the government to build more prison.This is to house all the cabinet ministers for corruption.

  13. #13 by boh-liao on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 10:16 am

    Manjung councillor Lim Ting Peng (Changkat Kruing MCA branch chairman n Beruas division vice-chairman) was found dead near his farm in Changkat Kruing
    He hired two Myanmar workers, who r illegals, at his farm
    MCA/BN kaki n councillor, yet knowingly broke d law by hiring illegals, Y?
    Did he ill-treat or exploit his illegal workers?

  14. #14 by boh-liao on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 10:37 am

    Racist MMK spinning again with cock n bull story
    He said: Malaysia cannot expect much FDI cos currently, many countries n foreign businessmen did not hv d funds 2 invest in other countries
    These countries and foreign businessmen also wanted to invest in their own countries due 2 the high level of unemployment there

    What utter rubbish statements!
    Trying 2 hoodwink rakyat, whom he always regards as bodoh
    If what he said was correct, then all countries would hv low FDI
    BUT Sg, a well-known expensive nation to do business in, had an amazing FDI in 2009
    No shortage of FDI
    Y such a huge difference in FDI 4 M’sia (ruled by d corrupt BN) n Sg?

    Pls lah, MMK, take a look in d mirror n ask: Mirror, mirror on d wall, who is d biggest liar n corrupt racist of them all?

  15. #15 by monsterball on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 2:03 pm

    rahmanwang…..Are you trying to be sarcastic?
    PR government need no ISA to bring in crooks for corruptions.
    There will be piles of evidences and witnesses compiled to arrest all lawfully.

  16. #16 by rahmanwang on Monday, 2 August 2010 - 3:31 pm

    Yes I am being sarcastic here.You know monsterball, sometime BN need a dose of their “medicine” so that they will wake up.

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