This post is a result of how people are lukewarm to the community efforts to call for the abolishment of ISA. Therefore, I am going to pick the latest article from Malaysiakini where Dr Jeffrey Gimpoi Kitingan talked about his time in ISA when he caught snakes and birds in Kamunting and barbequed them for foods. Can you look at this man’s face and not feel compelled to do your part to in trying to call for the abolishment of ISA?

My parish priest wrote a very moving reflection for the week, meant for parishioners of our church. It is about how Fear should not be a factor. And I think it is not only fear that is holding people back but indifference, a lack of drive to open their eyes and see the bigger picture. It is always much more convenient to just live in our cosy, cloistered and uncluttered world.

Many of them feel that some of those people are better cooped up in Kamunting for our own security. What more, our newspapers just revealed the gory deaths of some deviant group and subtlety reminded us about the deviant Islamic groups which indirectly justified people being detained under ISA . This is the part where many people misunderstood. We are not asking for real criminals to be released, We are asking for them to be given a fair trial and then, sent to jail if they have committed a crime. And if they are not guilty, then, release them.

Those people of Penang, and especially those who are Christians, who are asked to carry the cross of their brothers (regardless of their beliefs and faiths), should re-look at some of the past ISA detainees who had been released. Can you turn a blind eye, shut your ears and not say a thing knowing that our own Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng too was once an ISA detainee?

Don’t you feel the tug in your heart to the injustice shown by the ruling authorities? Doesn’t your conscience tells you that we shouldn’t be like Peter who denied the Lord three times? In case you forget, remember that our Chief Minister along with Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh plus many, many others too had been there.

It is not about the food but when we use food as the talking point, maybe it is easier for us to connect. After all, how many of us have been behind barbed wire, been stripped naked, slept on cement floor or been through other humilations like that? We haven’t so if they said they did that, we cannot immediately feel it as much as what they eat.

Here’s one I dug out from the internet. It was a conversation back in 2005, long before Lim Guan Eng even dream of becoming the CM of Penang, I suppose.

TV: Always wanted to ask you about your prison experience…

GE: You gonna blog about that?

TV: How many types of cockroaches were there?

PW: Ask something more meaty lah…

TV: How was prison food?

GE: Not too bad. I had sand in the gravy, stones in the rice and chicken without meat…

My dear friends, it is about human dignity. Can you stand by the side and see another human being reduced to this :

TV: What were the toughest moments?

GE: When my wife and kids came to visit. When they looked through the separator glass and barbed wire, when they spoke through the intercom to a bald (shaven), helpless husband and father. That’s when it really got to me.

And me, being the super sleuth, I even dug up an article written by Lim Kit Siang in 1998. (Frankly, I really admire how Lim Kit Siang maintained his articles and got them online) I shall paste something that I personally found very pitiful.

1. Food

a) Breakfast comprise of a slice of bread with margarine and a cup of weak tea or coffee.
b) Tea is a slice of bread with a small piece of local fruit.
c) Lunch and dinner are served at 12.30 p.m. and 4 p.m. (an improvement of the previous times of 11.30 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.).

The 14 meals each week comprise the following:-

(i) 6 meals of salted fish and wet vegetables
(ii) 2 meals of meat
(iii) 4 meals of fish
(iv) 2 meals of a single egg each.

With such a poor diet, it is not surprising that Guan Eng has lost 10 kg (22 pounds) or almost 15% of his weight after four months. Guan Eng however consoles his family by saying that “he eat to live, not live to eat” and “At least he’s still alive”. He relates an incident during a meal on Sunday where each prisoner is given a single hard-boiled egg. He was unlucky enough to receive a rotten egg. As he could not get a replacement egg, he had to eat plain rice. How he long for some ‘kicap’ to go with his plain rice! Still, this experience will allow him to have a better story to tell his children than the one his mother told him when he was young. To coax the children to finish their rice when young, his mother loved to compare her difficult days when she had to eat rice only with kicap. Now, Guan Eng can say that he is worse off than his mother, kicap also not available – just plain rice!

Therefore people, it is all these stories that got me so dedicated to join the candlelight vigil every Friday because we are not talking about releasing a bunch of people which we may have mistakenly believed are hard core criminals or terrorists. We are talking about human dignity, justice and a just law.

Here’s another story by Sdr Wong Ho Leng :

During the row calls, the prisoner had to squat in a row, hands behind the head … As the father, Kit Siang did not want us to see his son in that moment of ultimate humiliation.

Siew Chiang told Kit Siang that he did not see Guan Eng in the row. I said I did not also. Then Kit Siang told us where Guan Eng was squatted. He sped, because he had not wanted us to see the ultimate humiliation to his son.

Articles sourced from : Lim Kit Siang old site archive.

My old post about Lim Guan Eng

Worth reading – The recollections about Sdr Wong Ho Leng’s visit to Lim Guan Eng

So, have I made the purpose and reason to ask for the abolishment of ISA much clearer now? Do you feel the need to do your part in this call for justice and fair trial? Will you wear your badge proudly? Are you donning your purple ribbon (the significance : purple is a mourning colour for Catholics and a sign of protest) or yellow ribbon (signify press freedom, i.e. when Tan Hoon Cheng was detained under ISA)?

Oh, in case you wonder how Dr. Jeffrey Kitigan managed to get his hands on snakes and birds, you need to read Malaysiakini. I heard all the small animals were eaten by the inmates and there were no more snakes and birds to be caught.