Riot police broke up several candle-light vigils across the country tonight, detaining 30 people here, four in Penang and one in Ipoh.
The crowds had gathered to protest the Internal Security Act (ISA) which turned 50 today. The security law allows for detention without trial and has been wielded against more than 10,000 people since it went to effect on August 1, 1960.
The least the government could do is to allow for peaceful demonstrations and vigils against the draconian which the ruling regime had the privilege to abuse and misuse for nearly 5 decades.
Peaceful demonstrations and assemblies are a common feature in a healthy democracy. In a democracy, it is difficult to get the support of all citizens. Some may like the legislation (e.g. the 10 pro-ISA thugs in Penang) and others may disagree with its continuation.
The most important thing is to allow for freedom of expression to flourish. PM Najib should prove that he is sincere with his various reform pledges. Unfortunately, he had lost the golden opportunity to show that his administration is able to handle peaceful protests and engage with the protesters respectfully. His government is not an absolute monarchy and it is answerable to the people.
The police would have acted in such an uncivilised and brutish manner if they are not supported by the higher level which points to the Home Ministry and Hishamuddin Hussein and IGP Musa Hassan and the buck stops at the PM office. It is a big PR blunder. It makes me wonder what is APCO getting paid for?
The police may have successfully broke up the vigils but the regime is suffering another blow to their credentials.
It is such a shame!
Would investors put their money in a country which cannot tolerate peaceful dissent?