The Fruits of Weeds: Taking Justice at the Commemoration of the Twentieth Anniversary of Operasi Lalang in Malaysia

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Lee, Julian C.H. (2008)

On 27 October 2007, five Malaysian civil society organizations collaborated to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Operasi Lalang. This police operation was sanctioned by the government in 1987 and saw 107 Malaysians, mainly opposition party members and activists, detained without trial for as long as two years. Operasi Lalang is regarded by many critics of the Malaysian government as the most egregious deployment of the repressive Internal Security Act, under which these detentions were made. This article examines the social and political impacts of the Internal Security Act and Operasi Lalang before describing the commemoration which was styled as a court hearing with the Internal Security Act as the accused. Evident at the commemoration was a comprehensive loss of faith in the infrastructures of the state that are supposed to carry out justice and protect the citizenry from abuses of power. Thus the commemoration-cum-trial declared guilt and took justice, rather than seeking it through infrastructures of the Malaysian state.
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