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Encyclopedia > Operation Lalang
This article is part of
the History of Malaysia series

Langkasuka (2nd-14th century CE)
Pan Pan (3rd-5th century)
Srivijaya (3rd century -1400)
Gangga Negara (?-11th century)
Majapahit (1293-1500)
Sultanate of Malacca (1402 - 1511)
Sultanate of Sulu (1457-19th century)
Sultanate of Johor (1528-current)
White Rajahs (1841-1946)
British Malaya (1874-1957)
Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824
Burney Treaty (1826)
Straits Settlements (1826-1946)
Pangkor Treaty of 1874
Federated Malay States (1895-1946)
Unfederated Malay States (19th century-1946)
Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909
Battle of Penang (1914)
North Borneo (1882-1963)
Mat Salleh Rebellion (1896-1900)
World War II (1942-1945)
Battle of Malaya (1941-42)
Parit Sulong Massarce (1942)
Battle of Singapore (1942)
Syburi (1942-1945)
Sandakan Death Marches (1945)
Malayan Union (1946-1948)
Federation of Malaya (1948-1963)
Malayan Emergency (1948-1960)
Batang Kali massacre (1948)
Independence Day (1957)
Federation of Malaysia (1963-present)
Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation (1962-1966)
Brunei Revolt (1962-1966)
Expulsion of Singapore (1965)
May 13 Incident (1969)
New Economic Policy (1971-1990)
Operation Lalang (1987)
1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis (1987-88)
Asian financial crisis(1997-98)

Operation Lalang (or in English, Weeding Operation; also referred to as Ops Lallang) was carried out on 27 October 1987 by the Malaysian police to crackdown on opposition leaders and social activists. The operation saw the infamous arrest of 106 persons under the ISA and the revoking of the publishing licenses of two dailies, The Star and the Sin Chew Jit Poh and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan. The history of Malaysia is a relatively recent offshoot of the history of the wider Malay-Indonesian world. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Malaysia. ... Langkasuka (-langkha Sanskrit for resplendent land -sukkha of bliss) was apparently the oldest kingdom on the Malay peninsula. ... The Common Era (CE), also known as the Christian Era and sometimes the Current Era, is the period of measured time beginning with the year 1 until the present. ... A call of pan-pan is a very urgent message concerning the safety of a ship, aircraft or other vehicle, or persons on board who require immediate assistance. ... Srivijaya (200s-1400) was an ancient Malay kingdom on the island of Sumatra which influenced much of the Malay Archipelago. ... Gangga Negara was believed to be a lost Hindu kingdom somewhere in the state of Perak, Malaysia. ... The Majapahit Empire was based in eastern Java and ruled much of the southern Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and Bali from about 1293 to around 1500. ... Sultanate of Malacca was a Malay sultanate founded by Parameswara in 1402. ... For the province, see Sulu The Sultanate of Sulu was a muslim state that ruled over much of the islands of the Sulu Sea. ... The Sultanate of Johor (or sometimes Johor-Riau) was founded by Malaccan Sultan Mahmud Shahs son, Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah in 1528. ... The White Rajahs is a dynasty that ruled Sarawak from 1842 to 1946. ... The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, also known as the Treaty of London (one of several), was a treaty signed between the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom of the Netherlands in London on March 17, 1824. ... The Burney Treaty was a treaty signed between Siam and the British in 1826. ... The Straits Settlements were a collection of territories of the British East India Company in Southeast Asia, which were given collective administration in 1826. ... The Pangkor Treaty of 1874 was a treaty signed between the Sir Andrew Clarke on behalf of the British and Raja Abdullah of Perak. ... The Federated Malay States was a federation of four states on the Malay Peninsula - Pahang, Perak, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan - established by the British government in 1895, and lasted until 1946, when they together with the Straits Settlements and the Unfederated Malay States formed the Malayan Union. ... The Unfederated Malay States was a group of five Malay states, namely Johore, Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah and Perlis. ... The Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1906 (in which the Malays were not represented) effectively dissected the northern Malay states into two parts: Pattani, Narathiwat, Songkhla, Satun and Yala remained under Siam, but Siam relinquished its claims to sovereignty over Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, and Terengganu to Great Britain. ... The Battle of Penang occured in 1914, during World War I. It was a naval action. ... North Borneo was a British Protectorate and later Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom, situated in what is now the province of Sabah Malaysia. ... The Matt Salleh Rebellion happened in Sabah. ... During the early morning hours of December 7th/8th, 1941, before the first bombs started falling on the United States Pacific base at Pearl Harbor (time zone differences), World War Two widened in the Pacific with the Battle for Malaya - the Japanase invasion of the British Malaya. ... Parit Sulong is a small village in Johor, Malaysia on the Simpang Kiri River, 30 km east of Muar where on 23 January 1942, the Japanese Imperial Guards tortured and then massacred Australian and Indian prisoners of war. ... The Battle of Singapore was a battle of the South-East Asian theatre of World War II, from February 7, 1942 – February 15, 1942. ... During the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, control of the State of Kedah was given to Thailand by the Japanese. ... The Sandakan Death Marches are the most infamous incident in series of events which resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 Javanese civilian slave labourers and Allied prisoners of war, held by the Empire of Japan during the Pacific campaign of World War II, at prison camps in... The Malayan Union was formed on April 1, 1946 by the British. ... The Federation of Malaya, or in Malay Persekutuan Tanah Melayu, was formed in 1948 from the British settlements of Penang and Malacca and the nine Malay states and replaced the Malayan Union. ... The Malayan Emergency was an insurrection and guerrilla war of the Malay Races Liberation Army against the British and Malayan administration from 1948-1960 in what is now Malaysia. ... The event dubbed the Batang Kali Massacre took place December 12, 1948. ... Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) is a national day of Malaysia commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule. ... The Federation of Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia. ... The Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation was an intermittent war over the future of the island of Borneo, between British-backed Malaysia and Indonesia in 1962-1966. ... The Brunei Revolt broke out on the December 8, 1962 and was led by Yassin Affandi and his armed rebels. ... The history of Singapore had a relatively minor role in the greater history of Southeast Asia until 1819, when the Englishman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded a British port on the island. ... The May 13 Incident is a term for the Chinese-Malay race riots in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 13, 1969 which left at least 184 people dead. ... The Malaysian New Economic Policy (NEP or DEB for Dasar Ekonomi Baru in Malay) was an ambitious, though controversial, socio-economic restructuring program launched by the Malaysian government in 1971 under the then Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak. ... The 1988 Malaysian constitutional crisis is a series of events that began with United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) election in 1987 and ended with the suspension and the eventual removal of Lord President of the Supreme Court of Malaysia Tun Salleh Abas from his seat. ... The Asian financial crisis was a financial crisis that started in July 1997 in Thailand, and affected currencies, stock markets, and other asset prices of several Asian countries, many part of the East Asian Tigers. ... October 27 is the 300th day of the year (301st in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 65 days remaining. ... 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) is a preventive detention law in force in Malaysia. ... The Star is an English language newspaper in Malaysia. ... Sin Chew Jit Poh (星洲日報) or Sin Chew Daily, is a major newspaper in Malaysia. ...

Among the more prominent detainees were the opposition leader and DAP Secretary-General Lim Kit Siang, ALIRAN President Chandra Muzaffar, DAP Deputy Chairman Karpal Singh, MCA Vice President and Perak Chief Chan Kit Chee, Dong Jiao Zhong (Chinese Education Associations) Chairman Lim Fong Seng, Publicity Chief of the Civil Rights Committee, Kua Kia Soong. PAS Youth Chief Halim Arshat, UMNO MP for Pasir Mas Ibrahim Ali and UMNO Youth Education Chairman Mohamed Fahmi Ibrahim. Although most of the detainees were released either conditionally or unconditionally, 40 were issued detention order of two years. Included were Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh plus five other party colleagues, a number of PAS members and many social activists. A categorization of the initially named detainees, numbering 97, gives the following breakdown: political parties: 37; social movements: 23; individuals: 37. Democratic Action Party (DAP) logo The Democratic Action Party (DAP, Parti Tindakan Demokratik in Malay) is Malaysias largest secular and Socialist opposition party. ... Lim Kit Siang Lim Kit Siang (b. ... Karpal Singh Ram Singh or simply Karpal Singh is a Malaysian politican and a lawyer by profession. ... PAS logo The Islamic Party of Malaysia (also PAS, from Malay Parti Islam SeMalaysia) is an Islamist political party in Malaysia and is currently headed by Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. ... The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu in Malay, is the largest political party in Malaysia and a founding member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country uninterrupted since independence. ...

The political developments which brought this second largest ISA swoop in Malaysian history since the May 13 riots, were sparked ostensibly by mounting political tensions having strong racial overtones. According to the White Paper explaining the arrests, various groups who had played up "sensitive issues" and thus created "racial tension" in the country had exploited the government's liberal and tolerant attitude. This racial tension made the arrests necessary and further, forced the government to act "swiftly and firmly" to contain the situation. The May 13 Incident is a term for the Chinese-Malay race riots in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 13, 1969 which left at least 184 people dead. ...

The sensitive issues were brought on by what appeared innocuously enough as Education Ministry appointments of some 100 senior assistants and principals to vernacular Chinese schools. This provoked a storm of protest when it was learnt that those appointed were not Chinese (Mandarin)-educated. Politicians from the MCA, the DAP and GERAKAN, the major Chinese-based parties joined the protests and on 11 October 1987, the Dong Jiao Zong (Chinese educationists) held a 2,000-strong gathering at the Hainanese Association Building, beside the Thian Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, which evoked racially provocative speeches from the Chinese politicians present. The meeting resolved to call a three-day boycott in Chinese schools if the government did not settle the appointments issue. MCA Logo The Malaysian Chinese Association (Persatuan Cina Malaysia, MCA) (Chinese: 马华公会;; pinyin: Ma Hua Gong Hui - Mandarin / Ma Wah Koong Wui - Cantonese) is a political party in Malaysia, made up of Chinese Malaysian and one of the three major parties that make up the ruling Barisan Nasional, or National Front. ... The Malaysian Peoples Movement Party (Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia) formed on 24th March 1968, is a liberal party in Malaysia. ... October 11 is the 284th day of the year (285th in leap years). ... Mayor Datuk Ruslin Hasan District Kuala Lumpur District Area  - Total (City) 243. ...

In the event, even though the boycott was called off, albeit at the eleventh hour, the stage was set for a mirror response from the Malays, led by UMNO Youth. A mass rally of 10,000 was held at the TPCA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur and, by then, UMNO politicians had began to condemn MCA leaders for their collusion with the Dong Jiao Zong and the opposition DAP. Amidst calls from both sides for the resignations of MCA Deputy President and Labour Minister Lee Kim Sai and UMNO Education Minister Anwar Ibrahim, UMNO announced the holding of a mammoth rally in KL to celebrate its 41st Anniversary, which it was claimed would see the attendance of half a million members. Anwar Ibrahim has been touring the lecture circuit around the world since his release in 2004. ...

The proposed UMNO rally was the ostensible reason for the Inspector General of Police to precipitate the 27 October crackdown. Had the rally been held it was not improbable that racial riots could be sparked by the incendiary speeches of UMNO politicians. To make matters worse, a tinder box situation was already created by the rampage of a Malay soldier who killed a Malay and two Chinese with an M16 rifle in the Chow Kit area, straddling two large Chinese and Malay communities. The pundits have it that the Prime Minster had to have a quid pro quo for cancelling the UMNO rally. Hence the arrests of prominent Chinese politicians. In retrospect, some of the culprits like Lee Kim Sai escaped arrest while many opposition members and activists with nothing to do with racial incitement were put in. Most of the government party people also saw early release while the dissidents generally served detention terms up to two years. M16 is the U.S. Military designation for a family of rifles derived from the Armalite AR-15. ...

In any case, the incident provided Mahathir's government with the excuse to further tighten the executive stranglehold on politics by further restricting fundamental liberties. In the following year, the Printing Presses and Publishing Act was given more bite by a requirement that printers and publishers had now to apply for new licenses annually whereas they were only required to renew them yearly before. In addition if any license is revoked, it could not be challenged in court. A prison term was added that publication of false news could land a publisher in jail for up to three years. Amendments were also made to the Police Act making it practically impossible to hold any political meeting, including a party's annual general meeting, without a police permit. An illegal meeting could earn the person concerned a fine of RM10,000 and a jail term of one year. Mahathir bin Mohamad (born December 20, 1925 in Alor Star, Kedah) was the Prime Minister of Malaysia from July 16, 1981 to 2003. ...

Operation Lalang detainees

  • WAO member Irene Xavier
  • Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General Lim Kit Siang
  • ALIRAN President Chandra Muzaffar
  • DAP Deputy Chairman Karpal Singh
  • MCA Vice President and Perak Chief Chan Kit Chee
  • Dong Jiao Zhong (Chinese Education Associations) Chairman Lim Fong Seng
  • Publicity Chief of the Civil Rights Committee, Kua Kia Soong
  • PAS Youth Chief Halim Arshat
  • UMNO MP for Pasir Mas Ibrahim Ali
  • UMNO Youth Education Chairman Mohamed Fahmi Ibrahim

Irene Xavier Irene is a prominent member of WAO-a woman rights NGO. She was one of the 106 person detained under the Internal_Security_Act_(Malaysia) in 1987 during Operation_Lalang. ... Lim Kit Siang Lim Kit Siang (b. ... Karpal Singh Ram Singh or simply Karpal Singh is a Malaysian politican and a lawyer by profession. ...

See also

In the wake of World War II, a number of countries around the world introduced legislation that severely curtailed the rights of known or suspected communists. ... The Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) is a preventive detention law in force in Malaysia. ...


  • Chow, Kum Hor (Nov. 6, 2005). "9/11 changed Hu's view of ISA". New Sunday Times, p. 8–9.
  • Mahavera, Sheridan (Nov. 6, 2005). "'When you play with fire, you will get burnt'". New Sunday Times, p. 9.
  • Othman, M. Husairy (Nov. 6, 2005). "Tajuddin bears no grudges". New Sunday Times, p. 9.
  • Tan, Choe Choe (Nov. 6, 2005). "Sim taught detainees Chinese during his stay". New Sunday Times, p. 8.

  Results from FactBites:
Mahathir must apologise to the nation for masterminding Operation Lalang (664 words)
It is total news to me that before Operation Lalang, Mahathir told me that I would not be arrested but I was nonetheless detained under the ISA on the insistence of the Police.
In fact, the personal, petty and vindictive nature in the misuse of an already very oppressive ISA was further highlighted by the fact that Guan Eng and I were the last two of the 49 Operation Lalang detainees to be released in April 1989 – when the various batches of releases started in June 1988.
In his latest salvo after the Fifth Perdana Discourse Series yesterday, Mahathir returned to the case of the “cover-up” of a Cabinet Minister who was investigated by the Anti-Corruption Agency for corruption and whom he thought “action was going to be taken, but it was not taken”.
Malaysian opposition leader urges no detentions without trial (401 words)
"Although Abdullah's statement is meant to give assurances that the government has no plans to launch another Operasi (Operation) Lalang at present, it is not really reassuring, as his assurance is very strictly limited to the recent street demonstrations," Lim said in a statement.
Operation Lalang was carried out in October 1987 when the government detained 106 political opponents under the ISA amid a rise in racial tensions over the issue of Chinese education.
Malaysia must hold an election by next June but Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, the 74-year-old political veteran who has led the country since 1981, is widely expected to call a snap poll as the economy recovers from recession.
  More results at FactBites »



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