THERE are signs Ops Lalang will be repeated but in a different name warned national laureate A. Samad Said.
Samad said it could even happen tomorrow as the police are against Pakatan Harapan’s “Love Malaysia, End Kleptocracy” rally at Padang Timur.
Samad said this during a press conference at Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) where he announced an exhibition and a forum would be held at KLSCAH on October 28-29 in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Ops Lalang.
The event is organised by the Civil Rights Committee of KLSCAH, Suara Rakyat Malaysia, Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy and KLSCAH Youth.
“The younger generation has to be reminded and warned what happened. That is why we have a few programmes lined up for the exhibition and forum.”
Samad was referring to the mass arrests in October 1987 when 106 people were held without trial for what the then Mahathir administration said was to prevent racial clashes.
According to academics, Ops Lalang came on the back of rising ethnic tension in Malaysia after the Education Ministry appointed 100 senior assistants and supervisors at Chinese-medium primary schools.
This prompted protests on October 11, 1987 by the United Chinese School Committees Association Malaysia (UCSCAM) or Dong Jiao Zong, with MCA and Gerakan calling for a three-day boycott in Chinese schools.
Although the boycott was subsequently called off, Umno Youth then led by Najib Razak, who was also minister of culture, youth and sports, held a counter protest in Kampung Baru on October 17 calling for the resignation of MCA deputy president Lee Kim Sai.
A day after the arrests, the Home Ministry withdrew the licences of four newspapers – The Star and Sunday Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan.
Although the newspapers regained their licences on March 22, 1988, media activists say that press freedom has never been the same again.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT