Malaysia: Continued repression by government

Statement by Sivarajan Arumugam on behalf of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM)

January 8, 2008 -- Since last November, the Malaysian government has consistently crushed and suppressed the basic democratic rights
of the Malaysian people to have a peaceful assembly. The wave of
demonstrations took off on November 10, 2007, where some
30,000 people flooded the city centre of Kuala Lumpur demanding
the government exercise free and fair elections. Even though
the demonstration was peaceful and organised, the police applied
high-handed tactics and used water cannons and riot police. Many
were arrested, and even some bystanders were attacked by police
resulting in serious injuries.

The government was shocked by the large turn up at the November 10 demonstration despite its continued fear propaganda, continued to enhance its campaign. The government-controlled TV
and newspaper carried daily advertisements on why demonstrations
were not apart of the “Malaysian culture” and how
they always result in “violence “.

Once again, the government fear tactics failed when on November 25 2007 another 20,000 people converged the city demanding
rights for the Indian Malaysians, who were mainly from the
working-class background. The battle in between the riot police
and the protesters was a protracted one as it lasted for nearly
12 hours. Even with tear gas and chemical-laced water cannon
attack, the people kept coming back to form their picket line.

Since the last two large demonstrations, the authorities have
enforced a de facto ban on all peaceful rallies and
demonstrations. The lawyers and civil society march on the December 10 2007, in conjunction with Human Rights Day, was also
crushed and many lawyers were arrested. Again, on December 11, comrades from the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) and 15 other opposition party leaders were arrested when they a peaceful protest at the Parliament House to hand over a memorandum.

The government is in a phobia. In the last two demonstrations the
police have managed to get a court order to restrain people from
gathering at the protest point. This is a new tactic. It is
completely irrelevant and against the constitution that
guarantees the freedom of assembly and speech.

On the 5th January, 2007, the PSM and the Anti ISA Movement (ISA
– Internal Security Act, detention without trial) organised a protest and a candlelight vigil in support of those who have been arrested under the ISA last December, 2007. The demonstration that started at about 8pm, gathered about 1000 people. After just after 20 minutes through the demonstration the riot police attacked again and dispersed the crowd with water cannons.

The reactions of the state, clearly proves that the government in
a state of fear. It has realised that the people have arise to demand an end to all the atrocities and injustice by the Barisan Nasional leadership (ruling government). Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is in a dilemma. He has to call for elections this year and under the current circumstances, there is possibility that ruling government majority will be greatly reduced if it does. Thus, the government is on a campaign to create fear among the people, and a possible political crisis if the people defy the ruling party its majority. The history of the bloody May 13 1969 “racial riots” is often played up again and again.

The PSM demands that the rights of the Malaysian people for the
freedom of assembly and speech be upheld. The people will not bow
down to the pressure of the police and enforcement. The PSM and
other opposition political parties and civil movements have
planned for more demonstrations to defy the government. On January 26 2008, the PSM is mobilising a demonstration to fight against the exorbitant price increase of basic households needs, such as gas, food, bread and cooking oil. The pro-free market policies of the ruling government has left them completely not in control of the prices of these goods.

The working people are outraged. Real wages have been on the
decline and the workers demands for minimum wage has been brushed
aside. The PSM hopes to mobilise people on this point for the January 26 protest. The PSM expects the same high-handed actions by the police to crush the demonstration.

The PSM seeks solidarity in support our continued struggle for
the freedom of assembly.

Long live the people’s struggle.


Socialist Party of Malaysia
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)

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