Thursday, December 13, 2007

"We Are Not A Police State," Says Syed Hamid. Tell That To Those Who Were Arrested Or Injured.

Malaysia denied on Wednesday it was a police state, despite launching the biggest crackdown on anti-government activists in a decade.

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told Reuters the government was merely trying to ensure public safety in enforcing a blanket ban on street protests that has prompted opposition groups to accuse it of political repression ahead of a possible early election.

"We have never been a police state," he said in an interview in the administrative capital of Putrajaya.

"To say Malaysia is heading into a police state is an untrue statement and is an exaggeration, especially under our current PM. He is very careful, open and transparent. I think there is a limit to everything."

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi raised the country's expectations for reform when he took office in 2003, vowing to fight corruption and usher in more transparent, open government.

Four years later, frustrations at the slow progress of his reform agenda, coupled with discontent over rising living costs, have boiled over into the biggest street protests in nine years.

More than 20,000 people defied riot police and took to the streets of the capital, Kuala Lumpur, in two separate protests over the past five weeks, on issues that chimed with the clamour for reform: fairer politics and more equal race relations.

The last major rally, staged by more than 10,000 ethnic Indians complaining of racial discrimination, drew world attention particularly from India whose prime minister voiced sympathy for the plight of the Indian diaspora in Malaysia.

Syed Hamid, who now has the job of explaining Malaysia's actions to the world, said the government tolerated criticism but street protests risked public security and stability.

"You have to distinguish between riotous behaviour and open and transparent discussion," he said. "There is no problem with open and transparent discussion."

He also showed irritation at a media report that the U.S. State Department had also expressed criticism of the crackdown.

"If you look at every developed country, they don't tolerate riotous behaviour," he said, citing the large deployments of riot police in Western capitals during international summits such as the Asia Pacific Economic Forum and the World Trade Organisation. "During APEC or WTO meetings, they close up roads in order not to allow demonstrators. We are (doing) nothing more than that."

The risk of street protests turning into riots is a real fear among many Malaysians, particularly those who lived through the last major eruption of racial violence in Kuala Lumpur in 1969. Hundreds died in those riots between ethnic Malays, who make up most of the population, and ethnic Chinese. The current prime minister played a leading role in the immediate aftermath of that crisis to find a political solution to the racial troubles.

But the opposition accuses Abdullah now of using public order and the memory of 1969 as an excuse to stifle peaceful dissent.

In seeking to protect public security, police moved last weekend in the early morning to halt an annual human-rights march by just 60 people in the near-deserted streets of Kuala Lumpur.

***** Does Syed Hamid really believe what he is saying? Peaceful rallies to highlight the average Malaysian's dissatisfaction and unhappiness with the authorities have been declared illegal by our political leadership and the police have been wrongly and immorally ordered to be harsh and violent on its own citizens. The reason for this brutal government response is to somehow keep long-festering problems, abuses and misdeeds firmly under the lid, teach a lesson to the people that any form of dissent against Umno will not be tolerated and to make life for those opposition and 'anti-government' leaders as painful and miserable as possible.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure, Tuan Syed, we are not a police state. It's just that we are a SECRET police state

1:15 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Syed Hamid, is talking cock yet again.

All the elements of a police state are in place and many have been clearly demonstrated lately.

The thugs who double up as plain clothed cops and Special Branch and other special units are the primary elements of the Secret Police State called Malaysia.

The blatant lies, propaganda and misinformation will fall on deaf ears.

The winds of change are blowing, the people are unafraid and are steadfastly united.

1:27 PM GMT+8  
Blogger freelunch2020 said...

one-party gestapo state.
to arrest the hindraf leaders is the mother of all injustices.
God will punish the BN govt.

4:01 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Billy said...

The law says that it is illegal for anyone to assemble should the number be more than 5. Gee whiz, my family size is 7. So does that mean we can no longer go out for family outings without being caught, jailed, charged and fined? If this is not one element of a police state, than what is?

9:07 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Tedev said...

Well TSH may well add more to his statement "....and for those who're frustrated, unsatisfied and felt being discriminated by the present government, feel free to migrate to other better country or feel free also to vote for other political party to rule the country...".

1:20 PM GMT+8  

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