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204 NGOs urge government to uphold Freedom of Speech & Redress the Injustice Done to Lim Lian Geok

23 Oct 2011

Civil Society Statement

We, the undersigned organizations, support the Justice for Lim Lian Geok Movement that seeks to redress the injustice done to Mr. Lim Lian Geok

Lim Lian Geok was the President of the United Chinese School Teachers Association of Malaya, more popularly referred to as Jiao Zong. (1954-1961) and the most revered Chinese educationist in the country. After he led Chinese education movement in opposition to the 1960 Rahman Talib Report that proposes, among others, the conversion of Chinese medium secondary schools to the English medium, he was notified in 1961 that his citizenship would be revoked. His citizenship was officially deprived on 23rd October. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the revocation of his citizenship.

The reasons stated in the notice of deprivation of his citizenship – deliberate misrepresentation and inversion of government education policy to incite disaffection against the Yang Di Pertuan Agong (YDPA) and the government; and emotional appeals of an extreme communal nature likely to cause violence — are totally unfounded. Throughout his active life, Lim has always struggled for equality among all linguistic streams by peaceful means. He was consistent and firm about the need to sustain multi-culturalism in our multi-ethnic society.

Lim’s lawyer, Mr R. Ramani, who was a former Bar Council President had refuted the accusations against Lim by arguing that the government and YDPA cannot be equated to the state. A government merely represents the ruling political party. Hence, a citizen’s criticism against government policy cannot be regarded as being disloyal to the country.

We hold the view that every citizen has right of speech as well as criticizing government policy, be it Lim Lian Geok, Mat Sabu or Ibrahim Ali, should not be stripped of their citizenship. Apparently, the then Alliance government had by its action suppressed Lim Lian Geok’s freedom of speech with a view to deliberately silencing dissent. The government’s action showed its lack of tolerance for dissent, which, instead of being stifled ought to have been institutionalized as an important component of democracy.

We are thus of the view that the present Federal Government must redress the injustice done to Lim by restoring his citizenship and reputation. We believe this action will go some way in showing the government’s sincerity in upholding freedom of speech. In addition, the government must also give an undertaking that the tragedy brought upon Lim about 50 years back by its predecessor will not be repeated under any circumstance in the future. This is of paramount importace, especially since the Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak has announced, when abolishing the Internal Security Act, that he wants Malaysia to be the best democracy in the world. It is time now for him to walk the talk

 

Endorsed organizations :

There are totally 204 civil society organizations endorsed this joint press statement. 82 of the endorsees are from Justice for Lim Lian Geok Movement committee that leads by LLG Cultural Development Centre, Jiao Zong (UCSTAM), The KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, The Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall, The Federation of Hokkien Associations of Malaysia, Persekutuan Persatuan-Persatuan Alumni Sekolah-sekolah China Malaysia and others. There are also endorsements such as Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Aliran, Komas, Permas, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Tamil Foundation, Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI), Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia, Council of Churches of Malaysia Youth Network, Rumah Anak Teater and the others.

Please click here for the full list of endorsed organization in Chinese language.