ISA – Who Got To Play God

(This article appeared as a commentary on The Mole – 30 October 2017)

October 30, 2017

THIS would be my mellow version of the Ops Lalang.

The Internal Security Act, 1960 or the ISA, was probably the most draconian law to ever exist in Malaysia.  Prior to having the ISA, preventive detention was done through the Emergency Regulations Ordinance of 1948 aimed at combatting the communist threats.

With the end of the first Malayan Emergency in 1960, the Ordinance of 148 was done away with but was replaced with the ISA.  The mood of the period must be understood to see the reason for having such law.

Although the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) had lost the fight, the struggle was continued from across the Thai border by cadres, as well as their supporters (Min Yuen) in Malaya.  They penetrated unions, the press, as well as associations, causing occasional racial tensions in the country.

Pre-1970 Malaysia was not all dandy when it came to race relations.  The economic power was held by the Chinese since the days of the British administration while the Malays had been relegated to being farmers or lower ranking civil servants.

The Chinese immigrants first came to the Malay states in 1777, and first settled in the state of Perak in 1830 (Patrick Sullivan, 1982: 13). Within 44 years, they numbered 26,000 in Perak alone.  In 1921, the number of Chinese immigrants in the Malay states numbered 1,171,740.  Ten years later, it was 1,704,452. In 1941, it became 2,377,990 while the Malays were at 2,277,352 (Paul H Kratoska, 1997:318). The Malays remained as a minority until the census of 1970.

During the war, the Malays did not face much hardship as the Chinese did at the hands of the Japanese.

After the war, the CPM/MPAJA and their Chinese supporters took revenge on the Malays. In Batu Pahat, Muslims were forbidden from congregating at mosques or suraus to perform the Terawih prayers (Hairi Abdullah, 1974/5: 8-9).

The same occurred in Perak and some parts of Batu Pahat where Muslims were gunned down and burnt together with the mosque they were in during Friday prayers.

Mosques and suraus were often used as places of meeting for the Chinese community (WO 172/9773, No.30: 478) and were tainted by incidents such as slaughtering of pigs, and mosques’ compound was used to cook pork, where Malays were forced to join the larger Chinese groups. Pages were torn from the Quran to be used by the Chinese using these mosques as toilet paper.

Racial clashes had begun in September 1945 where Malays and Chinese clashed in Kota Bharu, Selama, Taiping, Sitiawan, Raub.

This culminated in the slaughter of Malays early one morning in a hamlet near Kuala Kangsar called Bekor where 57 men and women, and 24 children were killed by about 500 members of the CPM aided by 500 Chinese villagers from Kelian in March 1946 (CO 537/1580: 21 and Majlis, 24 Februari 1947:5).

All in all, 2,000 lives were lost.

Such was the mood and the ISA was introduced to also prevent further racial clashes by preventing instigators from achieving their objective whatever that may be.

Therefore, it was an Act of Parliament that was used to preserve public order and morals.  If one is to read the ISA thoroughly, then it would be easier to see that the Act was not just about detention without trial, but also as a weapon for the Royal Malaysian Police to nip any cancerous threat to public order and morals in the bud.

Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister as well as Home Minister when Ops Lalang was executed on Oct 26 1987 (arrests were made in the early morning of Oct 27).

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was Umno Youth chief and also Education Minister in Dr Mahathir’s Third Cabinet.

Anwar had made several unpopular moves that earned the wrath of the MCA such as the removal of crucifixes from missionary schools, introduction of Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction for Tamil and Chinese studies at the University of Malaya, as well as the introduction of non-Chinese educated senior assistants and supervisors to Chinese vernacular schools.

Deputy MCA president Datuk Seri (now Tan Sri) Lee Kim Sai who was also Selangor MCA chief, on the other hand, had also uttered words implying that the Malays were also immigrants.

A 2,000-strong gathering by the Dong Jiao Zong that was also attended by the DAP, MCA and Gerakan was held and a resolution was made to call a three-day boycott by Chinese schools.

Umno Youth responded with a 10,000-strong gathering at the TPCA Stadium in Kampung Baru.  It is said that Dr Mahathir then instructed Datuk Seri (Tan Sri) Sanusi Junid, who was Umno  secretary-general then, to organise a rally of 500,000 members in Kuala Lumpur.

I remember feeling the tension in the air, especially when an army personnel, Private Adam Jaafar, ran amok with his M-16 in Kampung Baru, adding more fuel to a potentially explosive situation.

The senior police management met in Fraser’s Hill to plan and then launched Ops Lalang to prevent bloodshed.

Whether or not Dr Mahathir disagreed with the police for Ops Lalang to be launched, it must be remembered that even if the police had wanted to launch the operations unilaterally, Section 8(1) of the ISA specifically mentions that it is the Home Minister who, upon being satisfied that the detention of any person is necessary, may make an order for the person to be detained for a period of not more than two years.

According to Section 73 of the Act, the police were not given the power to detain a person for more than 30 days unless the Inspector-General of Police had reported of the detention and its reason to the Home Minister.

Nowhere does the Act mention that the Home Minister SHALL or MUST act as advised by the police.  The police provided the names in a list, with reasons why they should be or were detained, but only the Minister could sign the detention order.

Dr Mahathir may now claim that Ops Lalang was the police’s idea, which may be true.  But as mentioned at the beginning of this article that the ISA is an Act of Parliament giving powers to the police to diffuse potentially explosive situations and also to protect and preserve public safety and morals.

The police used the ISA during Ops Lalang as it was intended to be used (there were also detainees from Umno during the sweep), but the Home Minister was the one who played God, and decided whom to be released before the 60 days was up, and whom to hold up to two years.

And that Home Minister is the same unrepentant person now touted to become the next PM by the DAP.

Kemarau Perniagaan Di Malaysia?

Kedai-kedai runcit lama banyak yang tutup sekitar tahun 1980an disebabkan pertumbuhan pesat kompleks membeli-belah dan pasaraya-pasaraya (Gambar ehsan PL1M)

Sehari dua ini kita disajikan dengn berita bahawa lima cawangan pasaraya Giant bakal ditutup dan dikhabarkan bahawa ini petanda ekonomi negara kita sebenarnya meruncing dan bukannya mengembang sepertimana yang diwar-warkan oleh kerajaan.  Berita penutupan cawangan-cawangan pasaraya Giant ini juga disebarkan melalui aplikasi WhatsApp.

Pagi ini juga saya melihat status seorang pengguna Facebook yang juga memberi khabar muram mengenai penutupan beberapa buah perniagaan besar di Malaysia.

Rangkaian Pasaraya Giant mengumumkan penutupan lima buah cawangan di seluruh negara.  Ia merupakan penutupan lima cawangan lama yang mana premisnya akan tamat tempoh pajakan dari sejumlah 122 cawangan di seluruh negara.

Cawangan-cawangan tersebut adalah di Seri Manjung, SACC Mall Shah Alam, Selayang Lama, Sibu dan Sungai Petani.

Walaupun keseluruhan daerah Manjung mempunyai 233,000 penduduk, Lumut hanya mempunyai kurang dari 33,000 orang penduduk dan sebahagian besarnya adalah merupakan warga Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia.  Giant perlu bersaing dengan dua buah pasaraya besar yang lain iaitu TESCO dan AEON Mall.

Sibu mempunyai 163,000 penduduk dan selain mempunyai dua cawangan Giant, ia juga mempunyai pusat-pusat membeli-belah seperti Sanyan Mall, Delta Mall, Star Mega Mall dan Medan Mall.

Sebuah Giant Hypermarket yang jauh lebih besar juga wujud berhampiran Giant Selayang Lama iaitu di Batu Caves, sementara cawangan di Selayang Lama terpaksa bersaing dengan pasaraya NSK Selayang yang menawarkan barangan runcit dengan harga yang lebih murah.

SACC Mall di Shah Alam itu sendiri tidak menarik ramai pengunjung.  Selain Giant, banyak premis perniagaan di situ telah ditutup dan berpindah terutamanya syarikat-syarikat yang mendaftarkan perniagaan yang telah menarik ramai pengunjung.  Di Shah Alam sendiri terdapat empat cawangan Giant yang berhampiran iaitu di Seksyen 9, Seksyen 13, Seksyen 18 dan juga Kota Kemuning.

Sungai Petani, walaupun mempunyai lebih kurang 280,000 orang penduduk, mempunyai dua buah cawangan Giant, iaitu Giant Hypermarket dan Giant Supermarket.  Saya yakin yang ditutup ialah Giant Supermarket.  Sungai Petani juga memberi saingan lain kepada Giant Supermarket dalam bentuk Pasaraya Econsave, Tesco, SP Plaza, Petani Parade, Central Square dan Amanjaya Mall.

Nampak gayanya penutupan lima cawangan tersebut merupakan langkah penyatuan atau konsolidasi dan bukannya disebabkan keadaan ekonomi yang muram.  Pengenalan sistem GST juga tidak memberi kesan yang besar kepada para peniaga kerana rata-rata pusat membeli-belah masih dikunjungi ramai orang.

Namun tidak dinafikan peranan yang dimainkan oleh online shopping ada memberi kesan terhadap para peniaga.  Ini adalah kerana ada masanya harga barangan yang dijual secara online adalah jauh lebih murah dari apa yang ditawarkan oleh para peniaga runcit.

Menurut PwC dalam laporan Bancian Runcit Keseluruhan 2016 yang dikeluarkannya baru-baru ini, 3/5 responden dari Malaysia telah mula membeli barangan secara online sejak tiga tahun yang lalu dan angka ini masih mengembang.

Di Amerika Syarikat, di mana GST Malaysia tidak memberi kesan, banyak pasaraya berjenama besar kini menutup beratus-ratus cawangan di seluruh negara kerana kalah kepada jualan online oleh Amazon.

Aéropostale, sebuah syarikat yang menjual pakaian golongan belasan tahun telah membuat permohonan untuk dibankrapkan.  JC Penney telah menutup 40 cawangannya selain membekukan tuntutan elaun lebih masa dan memotong gaji para pekerja.  Sears telah menutup lebih 200 cawangannya.  Macy’s telah menutup 136 cawangan yang menyebabkan 4,500 orang pekerja hilang pekerjaan. American Eagle telah menutup 150 cawangannya manakala Sports Authority telah menutup kesemua 450 cawangannya.  Office Depot telah menutup 749 cawangan, The Children’s Place telah menutup 271 cawangan, manakala Walgreens telah menutup lebih 1,000 cawangan.

Pasaraya terkemuka Walmart telah menutup 269 cawangannya, manakala pendapatan pengasas Amazon yang juga CEOnya, Jeff Bezos, telah meningkat  sebanyak USD6 billion dalam masa beberapa jam sahaja dalam bulan April 2016.  Banyak syarikat perniagaan runcit besaran di Amerika Syarikat terpaksa menutup cawangan, membuang para pekerja dan bergabung dengan syarikat-syarikat lain untuk terus hidup disebabkan persaingan yang diberikan oleh Amazon.

Trend yang sama kini dilihat di Malaysia. Pada bulan April 2017, syarikat gerbang pembayaran online Malaysia iPay88 yang menguasai 70 peratus pembayaran online di Malaysia mengumumkan bahawa angka pembelian online di Malaysia meningkat 161 peratus pada tahun 2016 berbanding tahun sebelumnya, iaitu 38.2 juta transaksi pada tahun 2016 berbanding 14.6 juta pada tahun 2015.

Menurut iPay88 lagi, barangan yang lazim dibeli oleh rakyat Malaysia termasuk pakaian, kasut, barangan kemas, barangan elektronik dan peralatan sukan.

Oleh kerana iPay88 hanya mempunyai 70 peratus penguasaan, ini bermakna jumlah transaksi pembelian online di Malaysia adalah jauh lebih tinggi dari apa yang dilaporkan oleh iPay88.  Angka ini tidak melibatkan pembelian online secara Cash-On-Delivery.

Lazada kini mengalami masalah untuk melayan nafsu serakah rakyat Malaysia yang gemarkan online shopping

Transaksi online, termasuk perbankan digital, adalah sebab bank-bank di Malaysia menutup 63 cawangan setakat April 2017.  HSBC telah menutup lebih 50 peratus cawangannya di UK iaitu sebanyak 62 cawangan. ING di Netherlands telah menutup beberapa cawangannya menyebabkan 1,000 pekerja bank kehilangan pekerjaan.

Citigroup telah menutup sekitar 9 peratus cawangan-cawangannya di seluruh dunia manakala Bank of America pula menutup 206 cawangannya.  Kedua-dua syarikat ini juga beralih kepada perbankan digital.

Pembelian peribadi meningkan kepada 6.6 peratus pada suku pertama tahun 2017 menurut Persatuan Peruncit Malaysia.  Rakyat Malaysia kini lebih banyak berbelanja untuk pembelian barangan secara online dan menjamu selera di luar daripada makan di rumah.  Indeks Sentimen Pengguna yang dikumpul oleh MIER juga menunjukkan peningkatan iaitu pada kadar 76.6 peratus.  Jumlah pembelian kenderaan peribadi bagi tahun 2017 juga adalah 425,711 buah setakat 30 September 2017 berbanding 418,277 buah dalam tempoh yang sama tahun lepas.

Adakah ekonomi Malaysia menghadapi kemarau seperti yang didakwa?  Anda putuskan sendiri.