Malaysian crackdown coming on dissidents?

Asia Sentinel
Malaysian crackdown coming on dissidents?


Opposition leaders fear another round of arrests like the 1987 Operasi Lalang could be on the cards

Over the past several months, the Malaysian government headed by Najib Tun Razak has been under unprecedented criticism on several fronts, particularly over what appears to be the country’s biggest financial scandal ever – the vast amount of funds that have disappeared from the government backed 1Malaysia Development Bd. Investment fund. But The Empire may strike back, opponents fear.

“We’re feeling the heat,” one publisher said in an email.

Whether the fears are overblown, as skeptics say, a widening chorus of criticism over the alleged personal corruption of the prime minister and his wife, Rosmah Mansor and other members of the family, as well as the endemic corruption in the United Malays National Organization, has been met with charges on the part of government officials that the country and parliamentary democracy are under attack from shadowy international interests. Establishment figures have begun calling for widespread arrests to break up the cabal and naming names of journalists and opposition figures as involved.

The international conspiracy charge has resonated particularly in the wake of the arrest of a Swiss national, Xavier Andre Justo, who is being held in a Thai prison and who Malaysian authorities have charged has met with a wide range of interests, both within the country and without it, to deliver thousands of what are said to be doctored, damaging email documents to the country’s enemies. Authorities have been quoted in the government-owned press in stories echoed on blogs as saying Justo had “met with very important people” from an unnamed country in Singapore.

To those accused of fomenting an attempt to bring down the government on doctored documents, the rising chorus of an international plot has raised fears that the government will make widespread arrests of opposition members, journalists and other critics, as former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad did in 1987 via a notorious crackdown called Operasi Lalang [weeding operation] by the Malaysian police.

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