A black T-shirt caused the massive arrest of 116 opposition members by the Malaysian government. It almost breaks the record set by the notorious Operasi Lalang more than 20 years ago in which 119 social activists, oppositions and religious people were arrested for violating the Internal Security Act.
The recent incident started from the arrest of Wong Chin Huat on May 5. Wong is a nationally renown political critic and the spokesperson of the Writer Alliance for Media Independence and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections. He launched the campaign of “A Black Malaysia” to mobilize people to wear in black to protest against the plot of the Barisan Nasional in Perak state. He further called for dissolution of the state assembly. After his arrest, police arrested hundreds of opposition members in the candle vigil and solidarity rally held in Penang, Kuchin and Kuala Lumpur.
There are 59 seats in the Perak state. In the last year election, the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance won 31 out of 59 while the Barisan Nasional got 28 seats. The Pakatan Rakyat alliance came to power with a narrow margin of 3 seats. Yet recently, for unknown reason, several opposition assembly members defected to the Barisan Nasional and it results in the collapse of the majority of the Pakatan Rakyat and its legitimacy crisis. The Barisan Nasional takes the advantage of this crisis to support its own Chief Minister.
The serious conflict between the two parties is paralyzing the state government and assembly. On May 7, the Barisan Nasional’s Chief Minister dispatched police to the assembly to take away its chairperson. The Pakatan Rakyat called for dissolution of assembly but the Barisan Nasional disagreed with it.
Since the election in March 2008, the political situation has never been stable. The opposition achieved its greatest victory and it was the first time for the Barisan Nasional not being able to maintain its majority of 2/3 in parliament.
The Barisan Nasional lost 5 out 13 states to the opposition. Prime Minister Abdullah stepped down in April last year and Najib Tun Razak took the office. The ruling party was plunged into its the most serious crisis. In September last year, it used the Internal Security Act to arrest the oppositions, journalists and blogger. In February 2009, the nude photos of Elizabeth Wong, an opposition parliament member, were released. The ruling party put a lot of pressure on her to resign. Almost at the same time, the ruling party launched its “coup” in Perak state.
After detention for a few days, Wong Chin Huat and other opposition members were released now. Along with the repression by the ISA, The political struggle in the Perak state gradually develops into a struggle with the Malaysian authoritarianism.