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The Age: Mahathir's democracy looks torn and frayed
By Tony Parkinson
16/4/2001 4:00 pm Mon
[Tidak ada pemimpin Malaysia yang paling kuat membuli dan mereka-reka
sesuatu yang tidak ada selain Dr Mahathir. Kali ini dia mengada-ngada
lagi dengan menangkap 7 aktivis di bawah akta ISA dengan tuduhan ingin
menggulingkan kerajaan secara militan. Tetapi wartawan Mebourne Age
yang pernah menemuramah beberapa aktivis tersebut mendapati mereka
tidak berminat langsung untuk mencetus keganasan kerana suara mereka
sahaja sudah cukup berkesan untuk menumbangkan kezaliman. Lagipun
perwatakan mereka tidak melambangkan seseorang yang keras - tidak seperti
DI bawah akta ISA seseorang itu boleh ditahan sehingga 60 hari TANPA
BICARA, dan boleh dilanjutkan sehingga 2 TAHUN jika Menteri Dalam Negeri
meluluskannya - JUGA TANPA BICARA. Ini bermakna kesemua aktivis mungkin
tidak akan muncul sebelum pemilu 2004 nanti.
Mahathir tidak menghormati demokrasi atau hak asasi manusia. Dia tentunya
akan dikutuk oleh dunia tetapi dia sudah tidak perduli lagi. Dia lupa
agaknya apabila tangkapan dilakukan tanpa bukti dan tanpa bicara itu
tanda dia amat dayus lagi lemah sebenarnya. Ini bukan ciri-ciri seorang
wira - tetapi seorang penyangak yang berlagak sebagai penyelamat bangsa.
Budak tadika pun mampu menelah sikapnya - inikan pula orang dewasa.
Tidakkah ahli Umno merasa malu berketuakannya?
The Melbourne Age
Mahathir's democracy looks torn and frayed
By TONY PARKINSON
Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad looks more and more the ageing tyrant. Are
there no limits to his campaign to crush his political opponents?
The Prime Minister's bullying and harassment of the supporters of his
jailed former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, turned especially nasty this
week, with the arrest and detention of seven leading opposition
figures under Malaysia's draconian Internal Security Act.
Dr Mahathir says the police have acted to curtail a terrorist threat
to national security. Baloney. The real purpose was to undermine
today's protest march in Kuala Lumpur commemorating "Black 14" - the
second anniversary of Mr Anwar's imprisonment.
As he languishes in Sungai Buloh jail, ailing and in need of surgery,
Mr Anwar still haunts the Prime Minister.
The former deputy PM's only crime, of course, was to emerge three
years ago as a serious leadership rival to the tenacious Dr Mahathir.
Soon enough, there were bogus allegations of sexual misconduct and
corruption, a show trial, and a 15-year prison sentence.
Now, police have detained seven members of the Free Anwar Movement on
suspicion of planning violent protests to topple the Prime Minister.
The police chief claims Mr Anwar's supporters had been trying to buy
weapons, including rocket launchers.
I have met several of these so-called terrorists. The allegations are
too preposterous for words.
Among those arrested was Ezam Noor, charismatic leader of the Keadilan
(Justice Party) youth wing. His only weapon is his eloquence. Also
detained was Tian Chua. Thin and studious, he is very much the
intellectual, and a prominent activist with the Suaram human rights
lobby. As for Raja Petra Kamarudin, he can be a fearsome sight as he roars
around Kuala Lumpur on what he calls his "Japanese Harley". But strip
away the helmet and leathers and he is a convivial middle-aged Malay
College old boy. A fire-breathing revolutionary he is not.
As for Raja Petra Kamarudin, he can be a fearsome sight as he roars around Kuala Lumpur on what he calls his "Japanese Harley". But strip away the helmet and leathers and he is a convivial middle-aged Malay College old boy. A fire-breathing revolutionary he is not.
When plainclothes police surrounded Raja Petra's car in the affluent
suburb of Damansara, his wife, Marina, thought they were being set
upon by a gang of thieves.
"They were screaming at us to open the car doors," she told me by
phone from Kuala Lumpur. "They didn't show us any badges or
identification. I couldn't see if they were armed or not. I honestly
thought we were about to be robbed."
It would be laughable were it not deadly serious. As Dr Mahathir adds
to his mounting collection of political prisoners, Malaysia is staking
a claim for the title of most repressive regime in the region. The
PM's ego appears such that he is beginning to confuse national
security with his own security of tenure.
Under the Internal Security Act, the seven can be held for up to 60
days without being brought before a court. If the Home Minister
approves, their detention without trial can stretch to two years: long
enough to keep them safely out of circulation as Dr Mahathir prepares
to face voters again in 2004.
In the absence of any hard evidence to the contrary, it is fair to
assume this is yet another blatant "fix" in the hope of extending Dr
Mahathir's 22-year grip on power. We know Asia's longest-serving
leader enjoys his job, but, plainly, this is getting ridiculous.
There will be international outrage, among human rights groups, in the
media, and in the Western democracies. Dr Mahathir says he could not
care less. "They have never said anything good about us even when we
are very nice," he snarled on Thursday. "They can go and fry their
Says Marina Kamarudin: "The old man doesn't care what people think of
him. Whether he looks stupid or not, it is immaterial to him. He just
does what he wants."
Having dealt with the shock of her husband's detention, she is now
having to wrestle with another disturbing reality - maybe most
Malaysians don't care much. And even if they do, it is likely many are
too intimidated to say so.
Today's protest march will go ahead regardless. Mr Anwar's wife, Wan
Azizah Wan Ismail, the leader of Keadilan and an elected MP, fully
intends to be there.
Who can guess what response Dr Mahathir has planned? Agents
provocateur? Staged riots? Discovery and seizure of weapons planted on
protesters? Any or all of this now seems possible. Constitutional rule
has become a fiction in Malaysia.
Democracy under Dr Mahathir was never for purists. But seldom, if
ever, has it looked shabbier.