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Protesters beaten up. Parliamentarians gagged. Media blocked?Is Malaysia headed towards the point of no return?

Media Statement
by Ronnie Liu

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): I was arrested by two policemen "politely" and handcuffed after about five minutes into my speech at the KLCC peaceful protest demonstration against fuel and electricity hikes on Sunday, 28 May 2006.

But the rest of protesters were not as "fortunate" as me -- they were mercilessly bashed with batons and kicked around by the Red Helmets (Federal Reserved Unit, FRU).

That was exactly what happened to me on 18 September 1995 in Kg Taman Aman some 11 years ago. I was beaten up by some FRU members for no less than 4 minutes before being handcuffed and arrested. Nothing has changed very much, even with with the change in political leadership (from Dr Mahathir to Abdullah Badawi).

After the ugly fiasco, 20 of us, 18 men and 2 women (members of the public and leaders of PAS, Keadilan and NGOs) were detained by the police, with many others terrorized and seriously injured by the FRU.

Who ordered the FRU to beat up the protesters on Sunday? Was it the decision of the OCPD of Dang Wangi, Kamal Pasha? Or the higher-ups in Abdullah's Administration?

Freedom of expressions and freedom of assembly are two important elements of a democracy. A democracy without these freedoms can only be termed as a "half past six" or "half-baked" democracy.

In Malaysia today, protesters are beaten up, Parliamentarians are gagged, and the mainstream media are told to black-out the voices of the people.

Can we still call Malaysia a democratic country, under such suppressed and restricted conditions? Is Malaysia headed towards the point of no return?

The only advice I can offer fellow Malaysians is "keep fighting". That's the SMS message I received after my arrest on Sunday from Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang who's currently on a study mission "for a more open and more democratic Malaysia".


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP NGO bureau chief

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