GERAKAN as the conscience of the Barisan Nasional (BN) – My Foot!

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 7th of April 2015

GERAKAN as the conscience of the Barisan Nasional (BN) – My Foot!

The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was passed at 230am this morning despite the best efforts of Pakatan Rakyat MPs to ask for the bill to be referred to a parliamentary select committee for further discussion and refinement. While it was not surprising that the UMNO Home Minister, Datuk Zahid Hamidi, would want to bulldoze this bill through parliament, it was disgraceful that GERAKAN, represented by its President and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Dato’ Mah Siew Keong and Simpang Renggam Member of Parliament, Liang Teck Meng, did not even utter a squeak of protest against POTA which allows for indefinite detention without trial.

GERAKAN has often been called the ‘conscience of the BN’ and has previously voiced out its opposition against the Internal Security Act (ISA). As recent as October 2013, GERAKAN, in a booklet entitled “Gerakan Speak Up” had the following statement:

Gerakan has been at the forefront of opposing preventive detention and have spoken up against the ISA, EO and other draconian laws. Recently, we also voiced our concerns with the amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act. The Central Bureau on the Law and Human Rights has been consistent in its fight for laws that conform to international human rights norms and Malaysia’s own human rights obligations. We have also been critical of the heavy handed actions of the police and have consistently supported the formation of the IPCMC.[1]

When I was debating the amendments to Section 13 to 28 of the POTA bill proposed by Hanipa Maidin, Member of Parliament for Sepang, I invited the sole GERAKAN backbencher, Member of Parliament for Simpang Renggam, Liang Teck Meng to give him a chance to defend his party’s position on the POTA bill. His disappointing reply was “Malas nak jawab” (Lazy to reply).

It is highly disappointing that the supposed conscience of the Barisan Nasional could not even be bothered to mount a defence of the controversial POTA bill that allows for indefinite detention without trial.

At the same time, MCA, which lauded the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and also the initial announcement of the abolishment of the Seditions Act[2], was also amazingly silent during the debate on the amendments to the POTA bill.

With the so-called defenders of liberal and democratic values like GERAKAN and the MCA in BN, the protection of human rights in Malaysia is facing dark times.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang