MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Monday, October 31, 2022

Bro Anthony Rogers: 35 years after Ops Lalang


From Benedict Lopez

Oct 27 marked the 35th anniversary of Operation Lalang when 106 Malaysians comprising politicians, activists, educationists and a La Salle brother, Anthony Rogers, were detained under the Internal Security Act.

Besides the detentions, the publishing licences of three newspapers were revoked.

Ads by 

Many Malaysians still remember this black day in the history of our country. I have not met Bro Rogers but he called me one day after reading my article in Aliran on V David, whom he had known from his days in Kamunting.

A teacher friend of mine, the late James Gonzales, once described Rogers to me: “If you slap him on one cheek, he will offer you the other”.

Such was the persona of this Lasallian brother.

Many who knew Rogers were shocked, to say the least, over why he was detained under Operation Lalang as he was not a prominent politician, social activist or a champion of vernacular education. He did not say anything controversial and sensitive to be in the negative limelight of the powers that be.

At the time of his detention, he was nevertheless informed that the government wanted to know more about the involvement of the Catholic Church in human development and social justice work. Surely, if they had wanted to know more about his work, they could have called him up and he would definitely have given them an in-depth explanation.

If he was contravening the country’s laws, he should have been issued a warning instead of being arrested.

The 73-year-old former Brother director of Penang’s St Xavier’s Institution recalls: “I was seen as a threat to national security because the Church brought together people of all faiths who had a passion for God to have compassion for their brothers and sisters. We were working towards helping Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, not trying to convert them.”

Before being detained in Petaling Jaya, Rogers was allowed to collect his personal items of clothing and toiletries. He was surprised that he was granted permission to take a copy of his Bible into his cell.

When I spoke to him, he told me he made friends with many politicians when he was detained. One politician even asked him how he could be so cheerful under detention, to which he replied with humour: “I am here for a vacation but to you, it’s a punishment.”

Some of the notable politicians detained with him, in addition to David, were Karpal Singh, Lim Guan Eng, Mat Sabu, Mahfuz Omar and Khalid Samad.

Any painful experiences? “The greatest pain was to see what all families went through when they came to visit. It was especially sad to see children coming to see their parents in Kamunting.”

Rogers did not encounter any bad experiences while under detention. In fact, he became friends with people of different faiths and that was a gratifying experience for him.

Currently residing at St Xavier’s, Rogers continues to raise awareness on social and economic justice.

He is one of the three co-authors of “The Xaverian Journey”, a chronicle of the founding, growth and progress of the Lasallian institution in Penang from 1787 till 2019. - FMT

Benedict Lopez is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.