Trees, Teresa and dangerous thoughts

I was going to write a letter this week to my local Member of Parliament, Teresa Kok, after I learnt that a local residents action group was lobbying to have all the street trees in our suburb cut down (apparently because some of them don’t like sweeping up the leaves). But then she was arrested at the weekend and detained under Malaysia’s infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) which enables the government to lock up people that they deem to be “a threat to the security of the nation” for up to two years without charges being laid and without them being brought to trial.

So what dastardly act was my local Member arrested for? Did she try to set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party like they did in Mongolia recently? Was she caught driving a truck bomb towards the PM’s office?

No – apparently she was accused of organising a petition to ask a local mosque to turn down the volume of the call to prayer in the morning. A day after she was arrested, officials from the mosque confirmed that she had nothing to do with the petition, but still she is in jail in solitary confinement.

According to her parents who were allowed to visit her a couple of days ago (she was brought to police headquarters blindfolded so she couldn’t tell them where she was being detained) she is being fed unhygienic food that is only fit for dogs, and she is suffering diarrhoea as a result.

Is this the way to treat elected Members of Parliament?

Oops, better watch what I say, another blogger was detained today under the ISA (that makes two this week, as well as a mainstream newspaper reporter). Apparently the blogger suggested people should fly the Malaysian flag upside down to protest about something or other – and that’s enough to be deemed to be “a threat to the security of the nation.”

I really can’t understand how Teresa Kok can be a threat to the security of the nation. She doesn’t look like a terrorist (she is a bespectacled slightly-built woman of Chinese descent in her mid-forties). She works hard for the community that she serves, has won her seat three times in a row, and her popularity is illustrated by the fact that at the last election she secured the largest majority of any Democratic Action Party member over a government candidate.

Uh, oh. Just had a thought. I wonder if that has something to do with it. No, better not speculate. I’ve just seen a police car drive by. Their ISA radar might be sensing that I’m thinking something that is not permitted. I’d better click save, close and publish before I get myself into trouble.

In the meantime there’s probably not much point writing my letter about the trees. I don’t think they deliver mail to the ISA jail.

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