KUALA LUMPUR: A programme to remind the public about Ops Lalang and its impact on Malaysia is being organised by a coalition of civil societies in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the crackdown.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy said they wanted to raise awareness, especially among youths, about the operation, describing it as “one of the most severe violations of human rights in Malaysian history”.
On Oct 27, 1987, 106 people, including Opposition and Barisan Nasional politicians, academics and leaders of non-government organisations, were nabbed under the Internal Security Act (ISA).
“Ops Lalang had a profound impact on our democratic system. It created a chilling effect on civil society and suppressed freedom of expression. After 30 years, it is important to educate the younger generation about what happened and the importance of doing away with laws which allow detention without trial,” he said.
Besides former detainees, Sevan said the organising committee has sent an official invitation to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to become a panel speaker at a public forum titled “Operasi Lalang 1987: My Side of History”.
Dr Mahathir, who was the Home Minister from 1986 to 1999, had penned the detention orders.
“We are trying to get Dr Mahathir and other senior officials who served at that time. We hope they would say ‘yes’ and turn up, so they can tell their side of the story,” he told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).
Sevan said the committee was also planning to extend an invitation to former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar.
National laureate A. Samad Said said the programme also serves as a reminder that society does not want a repeat of Ops Lalang or any similar operations carried out under different codenames.
Most of those detained during Ops Lalang in 1987 were released within 60 days, but 40, including veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng (Penang Chief Minister), several PAS leaders and activists were held for two years.
The licences of three newspapers The Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan (which has ceased publication) were also withdrawn.
The Star only resumed publication in March the following year.
The programme is scheduled to be held on Oct 28 and 29 at KLSCAH.
Its itinerary includes a sharing session by Ops Lalang victims and family members.
The programme is co-organised by Suaram, Civil Rights Committee of KLSCAH, Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy and KLSCAH Youth.
Did you find this article insightful?