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TJ MT MGG: Yang Berhormat Mahfuz Omar
By M.G.G. Pillai
10/12/2000 9:12 am Sun
Beberapa ribu penyokong barisan pembangkang dan 500 anggota polis berada di hadapan
Penjara Kajang untuk menyambut "kepulangan" tiga orang ahli PAS, termasuklah Ketua
Pergerakan Pemuda dan MP Pokok Sena, Haji Mahfuz Omar. Berlakulah satu cubaan menunjukkan
kuasa di antara pihak pembangkang dengan kerajaan. Pihak penjara melepaskan mereka pada
0200 pagi semalam (9 Disember, 2000), enam jam lebih awal daripada biasa dan telah
membawa mereka bersiar-siar tanpa sebab. Dua di antara mereka dibawa ke Lembah Pantai di
Kuala Lumpur dan Mahfuz pula dibawa entah ke mana ke arah utara, mungkin mahu dibawa ke
Kedah. YB Mahfuz meloncat keluar kereta pacuan empat roda di stesen tol Rawang. Beliau
telah menelefon setiausaha politiknya dan mereka pun berpatah semula ke Kajang untuk
menemui kumpulan manusia yang sudah menanti mereka.
Kejadian di Penjara Kajang semalam adalah satu peristiwa yang tidak menghairankan.
Kerjaan tidak faham bagaimana menangani hati rakyat. Ketika pilihanraya kecil Lunas
berjalan, kemampuan pihak pembangkang berdepan dengan kerajaan secara padu dan bersatu
adalah amat berbeza dengan cara yang dipraktikkan oleh Barisan Nasional di situ. Setelah
dilakukan bedah-siasat barulah mereka mengaku tersilap meletakkan calon yang salah.
Barulah mereka mengaku bahawa teknik berkempen penuh dengan keangkuhan, tanpa memahami
perasaan masyarakat tempatan dan apabila berdepan dengan tekanan, mudah menggelabah
Begitulah halnya dengan ugutan agar sesiapa yang dikenakan saman meletak kereta
membayarnya sebelum ditangkap. Ugutan itu sebenarnya boleh disanggah di mahkamah.
Sebagai contohnya, penggunaan tiket bagi membayar menggunakan tempat letak kereta dikira
tidak sah kerana tidak ada hukum undang-undang mengenainya. Tindakan mengugut itu bukan
lambang memperbetulkan keadaan, ia adalah gambaran kelemahan penguatkuasaan. Inilah
halnya di setiap jabatan dan kementerian kerajaan. Semua ini tidak diminati oleh rakyat
marhaen kerana kurang tarikannya. Kisah seorang ahli parlimen dipenjarakan memang lebih
menarik lagi. Itu sebabnya keadaan sebenar di kalangan rakyat marhaen adalah lebih tegang
daripada yang difikirkan selama ini. Tindakan Mahfuz bersama sahabatnya memilih
dipenjarakan dulu telah membuatkan kerajaan semakin mencelaru.
Several thousand opposition supporters, and 500 policemen, were at Kajang
prison to welcome the PAS trio, who included its youth leader and MP for
Pokok Sena, Mr Mahfuz Omar, in yet another test of will between opposition
and government. The prison released them at 0200 yesterday (09 December
00), six hours earlier than normal, and took them for an unscheduled
drive, two to Lembah Patai in Kuala Lumpur, and Mahfuz somewhere north,
presumably to his home in Kedah. Mr Mahfuz jumped out of the four-wheeled
vehicle at the Rawang toll booths, called his political secretary, and
both made their way to Kajang to meet his welcoming crowd. Since he had
been released, the prison officials in the van could do nothing.
Opposition leaders and others meanwhile attempted to see Mahfuz at prison
shortly after they arrived only to be told he had been released. He
arrived about an hour later to a emoitional welcome and to mosque for
prayers. Last night, he recounted his experiences in the one month he
spent in jail when he refused to pay a fine for protesting against an
Israeli cricket team playing in Kuala Lumpur in April 1997.
The police said the gathering outside Kajang was illegal but it did
nothing to stop it. It could not act without a backlash against the
government. So, a battalion of policemen, with an accompanying police
helicopter, -- or one policeman to five or six supporters -- to keep the
peace, an unnecessary show of force. It overreacted. And failed. For,
however you look at it, Mr Mahfuz, in electing prison to a fine, changed
the political ground rules. More people would opt for jail in future
trials deemed political in a show of passive resistance, what Mahatma
Gandhi called "satyagraha" when he humbled the the invincible British
Empire in India. The government is caught in its straitjacket, without a
clue how to react short of more policemen on these occasions. But this
suggests it loses control. Which is what it is.
This is the backlash in the extended struggle for the Malay cultural
mantle, after the Prime Minister dismissed his deputy prime minister,
Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim, had him arrested, was beaten up almost to death
by the police chief, and jailed for corruption and s###my in court trials,
with creative prosecution testimony, that angered the Malay community.
In every major confrontation since, the government was on the defensive.
So what happened at Kajang prison yesterday does not surprise. The
government does not know how to react. In the Lunas byelection, the
seamless unity of the opposition contrasted sharply with the disarray, as
we now find out, within the National Front. In the National Front
postmortem, it accepts that it fielded the wrong candidate, campaigned
with arrogance, was clueless, arrogant, did not understand local issues.
And with pressure, it disintegrates.
Two intransigient men hold the key: The Prime Minister and his
nemesis, Dato' Seri Anwar. The theocratic PAS's gains would not have been
as dramatic, nor UMNO's electoral decline as stark, without the cultural
fallout from how Dato' Seri Anwar was treated. It affects all levels of
society. The government is moribund. The armed forces is divided. The
police impresses one for its bullying. The judiciary is unreliable, and
this is affirmed by the two contentious trials which jailed Dato' Seri
Anwar. Mr Mahfuz Omar opened another front: to pressure the government
with passive resistance. On hindsight, this is what Mr Lim Guan Eng, the
son of the DAP national chairman, Mr Lim Kit Siang, should have done.
Not to appeal, but to go to prison. The courts judge people harshly and
play safe knowing full well it would be appealed.
Mr Mahfuz challenged that, and the courts must now be more
circumspect. There is, after all, no more advantage to one's future if
one delivers judgements not what one should but what one's leaders expect.
Mr Justice Arifin Jaka, having sentenced Dato' Seri Anwar to jail for
s###my, has not written his judgement. Without it, Dato' Seri Anwar
cannot appeal. But if he did write it, he could himself be convicted and
jailed for abusing his office. He is, in other words, in a dilemma, as
the judiciary already is, the new chief justice notwithstanding. That he
does not ensure Dato' Seri Anwar continues to be denied due process.
So, what happened outside Kajang Prison is more than a political
activist released from jail. It gives the opposition yet another boost.
Mr Mahfuz is an electrifying speaker, and he can dine on his experiences
in prison to fuel the anger that asserts the Malay mind. But it is not
what he has to say, or even what he underwent, that damages the
government. It is that when challenged it decides to take the high
official ground that all these gatherings are illegal. Gatherings of five
and more is illegal without a police permit. No opposition meeting these
days have one, if only because they are routinely denied. Many just do
not bother. As Malaysians do not of threats ministers make.
However you look at it, the call to motorists to pay up their unpaid
parking offences or face arrest misses one important legal principle:
that one can challenge this in court. I believe, for instance, parking
tickets in Kuala Lumpur is illegal for there is no legal provision for
them. But the exercise itself shows not a desire to put matters right but
a total breakdown in enforcement. And so it goes on, in every department
and ministry. The police is not exempt. Nor the cabinet nor just about
every institution of government. But these do not attract public
interest. The jailing of a member of parliament does. That is why the
situation on the ground is worse than we are told it is. Mr Mahfuz and
his collegures in going to jail weakend the government even more.