Saturday, 20 September 2008

Freed But Not Free...

Teresa Kok’s release yesterday afternoon is welcomed yet overdue news. She should never have been taken in let alone had to endure 7 days of senseless incarceration.

Without disparaging the fears and emotional turmoil that her parents and loved ones felt the last week, I think they were consoled that she would not be physically abused given the high profile nature of her predicament.

However, one can only imagine the mental anguish Teresa would have endured because of the indignity and uncertainty she faced. Stuck in the claustrophobic confines of a 6 x 8 cell and staring at the uncertainty of how long and how far her jailers would go with the detention, uncertainty about how wide the “ISA net” had been cast this time and uncertainty about the course the nation was taking, how could she have felt? No matter how barbaric the ISA, not many would expect her to be physically harmed yet, how does one measure her pain?

Unfortunately, Teresa was not released into freedom; there can be no freedom so long as innocent Malaysians can be detained at the stroke of a pen, without due process of the law. None of us are free! The ISA has to go!

There has been so much written and debate about the action taken by the government. So much has come to pass these seven days amidst hew and cry following the arrests of Raja Petra, Teresa and Tan Hoon Cheng. While the authorities so unconvincingly hid behind national security, there was hardly a voice in favor of her detention apart from those of her antagonists. The candle-light vigils, the surge of blog posts, the Kelana Jaya Stadium anti-ISA rally, all a plea against injustice and intimidation. The simple appeal from the masses was that the universal moral principle; the Quranic “amar maaruf, nahi munkar” (to uphold truth and oppose evil) be upheld.

The arrest of Raja Petra under the ISA though totally unjustifiable is perhaps more acceptable than that of Teresa and Tan. There is no need to elaborate on the exploits of RPK - goading and baiting the government through his writings and exposés. There are not many who have been described with so many antithetical adjectives; traitor/patriot, liar/veracious, irreverent/ devout …the list goes on!

What the government may deem subversive, RPK considers, “amar maaruf, nahi mungkar”. This “irresistible force meeting the immovable force” scenario was bound to come to a point; alleged threat to national security!

Teresa and Tan’s arrest stank of political motivation and this has been borne out by facts and revelations widely reported in the alternative media and indeed even mainstream media. The public can judge.

To Teresa and Tan, I would like to say congratulations! You are now paid up members of the ISA alumni. The dubious honor is shared with
hundreds before them and if Anwar goes all the way, later even a Prime Minister! Membership will become exclusive the day the Internal Security Act 1960 is finally repealed.

I am pleased to read Teresa Kok
hit the ground running immediately after her release. With this 7-day ordeal now behind her, why do I somehow have this nagging suspicion that she may even feel glad it happened. There have been more positives that came out of this for the nation.

Apart from “amar maaruf, nahi mungkar”, my Muslim friends have taught me the concept of
“hikmah” (wisdom) that is important in Islamic Philosophy. Hikmah has been described as:

“…knowing things for what they really are, as much as is possible. In other words, it is such that one is not confused by various doubtful possibilities mixed together, and is not mistaken as to why certain things have occurred.”


“…to realize the essence of things, and to understand the connection between cause and effect – in regards to the Creation, occurrence of events, fate, and legislation.”

Before last week I had of course heard of Ms Teresa Kok and the impression I had was that she was a “person of the people”. That kind of generalization tends to take away a lot from Teresa Kok, “the person”. Who exactly is Teresa Kok? The ISA spotlight has changed all that. The convergence of diversified brackets of Malaysian society to protest and plea for her was amazing. It was “Bangsa Malaysia” in motion. I have heard first hand, people of different races heap accolades on her in vigils and seen outpouring of emotions at the mere thought of her in prison.

RPK’s detention stirred anger, Tan Hoon Cheng’s evoked sympathy but by cutting across the partisan, racial and religious divide, Teresa’s united the masses. As some of my friends would say, “Mungkin ada hikmahnya Teresa Kok ditahan ISA”.

I have also read that Teresa Kok is suing the government for wrongful arrest and detention. She is ill advised to do that because she may soon be sitting on a different side in Parliament. Wouldn’t it look ridiculous? Spare us the tax payers.

She should just go after
Tempe and Utusan.


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