Wednesday, September 05, 2007


by Tan Kong Beng

Just before we celebrated Merdeka Day we read that a prominent member of the Bar Council and a practicing lawyer was threatened for doing his job as a lawyer. Mr Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who is holding a watching brief over the Lina Joy case on behalf of the Malaysian Bar, has been the target of death threats. He published his personal take on the matter as a comment in "The Compromise One Cannot Make" which was published in the New Sunday Times, 27 August 2006 (pg 23) and also on NST Online.

Below is the unedited version of my Letter to the Editor (NST) which was published on Sept 6 (and edited as was expected):

Dear Editor,

I am aghast to read his personal commentary of a death threat titled "WANTED DEAD" to him. I am very angry that a group in our society can do such a thing to someone who upholds our Federal Constitution and maintains such values and hopes as we cherish in Malaysia.

I find it very difficult to understand what has happened to our society that a section of it engages not in dialogue but with death threats if anyone disgrees with them. I want to say that there is no place for such people in Malaysia because we are governed by a Federal Constitution and we uphold such values as parliamentary democracy, rule of law, free speech, the right of assembly, the right to profess
and to practice one's religious beliefs, etc.

I wonder if this is an organised threat of violence to do harm to someone in our society. And if it is then the ISA should rightly be invoked because it was intended for those who organise violence against Malaysian society as the Communist terrorists did during the early days of our Independence.

If we don't stand up for Mr Malik now one day we may find ourselves on a "Wanted Dead" poster. Who then will speak for us?

As it is a certain group of people can exhibit such intolerance as to publicly and with such venom wish for someone to be murdered. We cannot be silent and allow such a group to dictate these values which is abhorrent to us as Malaysians.

My prayers go with Mr Malik that he does not have to fear for his life. May God surround him with angels and protect his life because he is a good man who defends our Federal Constitution and our values as Malaysians. May God give him strength and fortitude.

No one in Malaysia needs to fear for his life. I have never felt that in our villages, towns and cities. Perhaps I did feel fear during my first jungle patrol duty at the Perak-Kelantan border which by then CT activities were already waning but their booby traps were still there waiting for one of us to step on it.

So it is a shock to him (and to us) that he has received a death threat in modern day Malaysia and he has now publicly spoken about it. I too am shocked and angry. We must each of us look at ourselves in the mirror and ask what we must do so that neither Mr Malik nor others need be fearful for their lives even as celebrate our Hari Kemerdekaan again - the coming together of Malaysia in 1957 and 1963.
This is for the sake of our children and for generations of Malaysians to come as we build a Malaysian society that is outstanding in many ways as our PM has envisioned for us.

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