KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government admitted today to having used the Internal Security Act (ISA) in the past for “wrongful reasons” but urged their detractors to look forward instead of dwelling on history.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said this in the Dewan Rakyat today when repeatedly pestered to comment on the allegedly “biased” arrests of opposition politicians during the infamous 1987 Operasi Lalang incident.
“On the 1987 incident... those are incidents that we will not repeat, that we do not want to see repeated.
“But we look ahead and not dwell on matters of implementation (of the ISA) at the time,” Nazri (picture) told the House when winding up the debate on the second reading of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012.
The veteran Umno minister was also forced to deflect several accusations levelled against his party president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was the party’s Youth chief when the government launched the 1987 ISA dragnet on opposition leaders.
Interjecting, Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) demanded the minister explain why Najib had not been arrested for allegedly issuing a racially-charged threat to “bathe the keris (dagger) in the blood of the Chinese”.
“The Umno Youth chief, who is today our prime minister, said clearly after unsheathing his keris that this keris must taste Chinese blood.
“Why wasn’t he detained under the ISA?” Karpal asked to loud shouts of disapproval from across the floor.
Nazri immediately stood up to refute the DAP chairman’s remark, which has often been repeated in the media, blogs and political speeches on the 1987 incident, and told the House that the allegation was untrue.
“This did not happen. I was there, I know what he said. It did not happen,” he said repeatedly.
Ops Lalang was launched on the morning of October 27, 1987, to clamp down on social activists and opposition politicians. Two dailies and two weekly newspapers were shut down and 106 people were arrested under the ISA at the time.