KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights group Suaram plans to invite former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former police chief Hanif Omar to speak at a forum commemorating the 30th anniversary of Ops Lalang later this month.
Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said the event would be held on Oct 28 and 29 at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).
“For the Oct 29 forum, we will be calling former detainees like our founder Dr Kua Kia Soong, Dr Nasir Hashim of PSM and Amanah’s Mohamad Sabu (Mat Sabu).
“They will speak about their ordeal during their ISA detention. We hope Tun (Mahathir) or any senior government officers during the Ops Lalang will be able to turn up,” he told reporters in a press conference at KLSCAH today.
Over 100 activists, politicians and academics were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1987.
Newspapers such as Sin Chew Daily, The Star and Watan were also banned.
Mahathir was prime minister and home minister during Ops Lalang which took place that year, while Hanif served as inspector-general of police until his retirement in 1994.
In 2012, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that the ISA would be abolished.
Suaram coordinator Amir Abd Hadi said the group wanted to invite Mahathir and Hanif as panelists together with former detainees, so that they would have a chance to explain their actions in calling for the arrests.
“We have no intention to criticise them,” he added.
According to Amir, invitations will be sent to Mahathir and Hanif by next week.
Meanwhile, national laureate A Samad Said said the event was meant to remind the public, especially the younger generation, of the negative impact of Ops Lalang.
“We wish to remind them how the detainees were arrested and how some of them were tortured,” he said.
He added that the “shadow” of the mass arrests continued to this day.
“It is not impossible that it will be done again,” he said, pointing to the Pakatan Harapan rally at Padang Timur tomorrow.
“If I am not mistaken, police have warned against holding the rally, but Mat Sabu insists it will proceed.
“There are signs of possible arrests.”