Reported in Malaysiakini.com, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak today defended the government's crackdown on dissent, including the arrest of ethnic Indian activists and suppression of street protests, saying it had averted a serious risk of racial violence.
He was quoted as saying, "If the Malays of Kampung Baru come out then we have the spectre of a serious possibility of a racial clash in this country," Najib told the AFP. The Malay enclave was one of the flashpoints of the 1969 riots. "There were signs that they were preparing to come out so we had to tell them, 'look, don't make the situation any worse'," he said."The government was actually taking action to prevent anything worse from happening."
The deputy premier suggestion is totally irrational. I am surprised he tried to link the Hindraf's protest to the Malay community. I have argued earlier that UMNO is not synonymous with the Malay community. A large number of Malays - at least 40 percent - are not UMNO members or supporters.
Hindraf leaders, although I may not necessarily agree with its leaders' statements or the method used, have specifically said that the protest was against UMNO and not the Malay community.
The DPM is doing an injustice by trying to draw the Malay community into what was presumably a protest against his party. His justification of using the ISA is unacceptable to a country where there is a rule of law. Citizens, including politicians, must abide by the law.
I have a few questions for the DPM and it is important that he ponders hard on them:
1) Is he using the Malays in Kampung Baru as a threat to all Malaysians who wanted to exercise their constitutional rights to assemble, speak and association?
2) What will the government do if the Malays in Kampung Baru turned violent? Will the ISA be used against them as well?
3) From his statement, it is obvious that the government has established communications with the Malays in Kampung Baru. Why didn't the government take preemptive action against the leaders of Malays in Kampung Baru for displaying violent tendency? Is the government practising double standards?
4) Is Najib's statement seditious?
I would like to register my protest against a leader who has called for no racial sensationalising in the forthcoming general elections just weeks ago. I am surprised he is now trying to involve the Malay community in the Hindraf issue. It will inevitably pit the Malays against the Indians - whom majority are sympathetic to the cause of Hindraf.
Najib, a touted successor of Abdullah Badawi, should behave and speak like a national leader worthy of helming the country in the near future.