24 March, 2009

Speak up against attempts to silence opposing voices !

Former de facto Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has hit out at the suspension of two opposition party publications and said that Malaysians should denounce attempts to silence opposing voices.

Zaid said that he was not surprised by the suspension of opposition party owned newspapers Suara Keadilan and Harakah and added that the only way to prevent more such attempts was if more people would stand up and criticise the move.

"We're all vulnerable," he said. "Those who think they are safe are mistaken. No matter how much you try to play safe, you are never safe. If more and more people stand up, then the people in power will probably think twice."

The suspension of Harakah and Suara Keadilan is not part of a crackdown on Opposition political parties because of the coming by-elections, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung.

However, it is widely perceived as a move to stifle the reach of opposition parties and bolster the chances of the ruling party in three critical by-elections next month.

In another move that is seen as an attempt to tighten its grip on the media landscape, Umno, the party that forms the backbone of the government, also barred six internet based media from covering its annual general assembly this week, including Malaysiakini, as it is not friendly to UMNO.

Anwar Ibrahim: Najib…’unleashes his brutality and violence on the people’

A phase of repression descended on Malaysia as Najib Razak seizes control of the reins of power, even before officially taking over as Prime Minister, and unleashes his brutality and violence on the people.

Last night, a rally of about 10,000 people from all races was mercilessly attacked by the police with tear gas and acid-laced water cannon minutes after I began my speech in Bukit Selambau. Scores of people were arrested including my chief of staff, MPs, and senior aides to the Chief Minister of Kedah.

To justify their iron hand tactics and blatant violation of the people’s fundamental liberties, the police have claimed that the rally was illegal. These are baseless claims as the event took place on private property and adhered to the rules.

Last night’s show of brute force is but the latest in a series of harsh and dictatorial action by the government under Najib against the people. Also yesterday Suara Keadilan and Harakah were banned by the Home Ministry without any justification. These events only too starkly remind us of the cruel and authoritarian style of leadership under which Malaysians suffered for many years. The police force has become a band of marauders. The press is muzzled and those who speak the truth about the abuses carried out by the ruling clique are arrested, beaten and bullied.

The institutions of governance serve the interests of an elite clique which will exceed all boundaries of the law to retain power. A return to that era would be a disaster for this country and people of conscience around the world should condemn these unscrupulous actions.

It is quite clear that despite his superficial offers for cooperation and bipartisanship, the olive branch which Najib Razak extended to the opposition early this month is really a dagger in disguise.

In two weeks Malaysians will once again return to the polls in three important by-elections. Once again all forms of trickery, cheating and bribery will be employed by the UMNO led BN government in order to defeat the opposition. But we are confident that Malaysians will register a referendum, much like they already have done in Kuala Terengganu and in Permatang Pauh, against the brutal and inhumane policies of the government. The movement for change and reform in Malaysia will push forward and will succeed.


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