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.

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.

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 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.

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. 

Screenshots: Ops Lalang: Why NST may harm Najib pretty badly (7378 words)


At the same rally, banners were hoisted carrying phrases such as “revoke the citizenship of those who opposed the Malay rulers”, “May 13 has begun” (referring to the May 13 racial riots in 1969), and “soak it (the keris) with Chinese blood”.


The 1987 Ops Lalang was bad, but the cause that precipitated it was even worse — Pemuda Umno and chauvinists on the opposing side of political divide had all left their finger-prints all over this ugly chapter in modern Malaysian history.


On nst’s headlines on ops lalang, maybe KJ and mulsim clerics/hindu God have some vendetta against DPM, who may be in their way to the top. /2006/10/ops_lalang_nst_may_harm_najib.php   (7378 words)


United Malays National Organisation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1836 words)


The Youth wing in particular is known for what some call radical and extremist defense of ketuanan Melayu; one opposition journalist has contended that all UMNO Youth leaders were “perceived as pro-Malay, anti-Chinese in their days”.


One oft-cited instance of this is a rally held by UMNO Youth shortly before Ops Lallang in 1987, where future Deputy Prime Minister and then UMNO Youth Chief Najib Razak threatened to bathe a keris (dagger) with Chinese blood.


At the same rally, banners were hoisted carrying phrases such as “revoke the citizenship of those who opposed the Malay rulers”, “May 13 has begun” (referring to the May 13 racial riots in 1969), and “soak it (the keris) with Chinese blood”. 

 Government White Paper on Operasi Lalang – Download here.   



2 Responses to "OPERASI LALANG"

hi guys, I just wanted comment on the absolutely unbelievable claims today by Dr. M that he tried (for 22 years ?) to repeal the I.S.A. act but was told by the police that he was not allowed to ! Whilst we all know that Malaysia is a Police State, like all the worst autocratic/elected dictatorships are in the world, this must also be the only place anywhere in the world that the politicians/generals/army are told what to do BY THE POLICE. Normally in these rotten corrupt countries the police are the instrument OF the politicians/generals/army. If what Dr.M claims is true then the P.M., Parlaiment and every M.P. will never have any right or any say in revoking the much hated and evil I.S.A. but the decesion to alter or revoke it lies with a policeman ! I suppose he will claim next that the Printing Act, which gives 1 single Minister the absolute right to close down every single newspaper and T.V. station in Malaysia (without legal challange, of course) was forced upon him by the police. Paul, LONDON

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FREE ALL ISA DETAINEES "The land belongs to the countless numbers of people who are dead, the few who are living and the multitude of those yet to be born". child2