Monday, September 28, 2009

ISA Tun M 
1. There is much talk today regarding the Internal Security Act. Having released people and having detained people under the ISA, I think I know something about this act and its application.

2. Firstly one must remember that it is a preventive law, that is it is to be applied before a crime is committed. The law cannot be applied after the crime is committed. For this there are other laws.

3. Secondly it can be applied only in certain specific cases, as for example when there is a threat to the security of the country.

4. A possible armed uprising or possibility of civil violence would constitute a threat to the security of the country.

5. However it had been used in the past to incarcerate political opponents, as when Aziz Ishak was detained.

6. At this point visitors to this blog are likely to say I did the same. I admit I did detain people under the ISA in the 1987 Ops Lalang. But it was not because they were members of the opposition. The police had informed me that there was likely to be racial clashes over the issue of Chinese education and the intention of some UMNO members to hold a million strong demonstration in K.L.

7. The people detained were not only members of the opposition but included UMNO members. As soon as the threat passed the detainees were all released. The issue was not political opposition to the Government but the threat to national security.

8. I don’t expect this explanation would be accepted by my detractors. But that is normal. Detractors would never admit to being wrong.

9. On the ISA, it seems odd that some who were detained under the ISA supports this preventive laws. I am sure they don’t support abuses of the law though.

9. When the so-called war on terror was launched by Bush and Blair, they did not hesistate to detain so-called suspects without even being sanctioned by any law. They were so critical about our ISA before but not only did they detain thousands of the so-called suspects, they actually tortured the detainees when they felt threats to their security. I will not talk about their invading Iraq and Afghanistan and the killings of thousands of innocent people.

10. The so-called protagonists of human rights were clearly critical when others resort to preventive detention. When they felt threatened they not only detain people but they did this without any law which provides for such act.

11. Just because our critics are hypocrites does not mean that we should retain the ISA. But there is a need for preventive detention in Malaysia simply because without this threat racist extremists would undermine the stability of this country. That extreme racialism can lead to violence is not something we can take lightly. We must value our stability because it has made it possible for this country to develop much faster than other countries.

12. Can the ISA be replaced by a court hearing. In Malaysia courts take a long time to pass judgement; months or even years. By then the violence would have taken place, i.e. the court action would have failed to achieve the prevention that the law is meant for.

13. Still there is need to review the ISA. I don’t think it should be done away with but there must be a clear cut provision as to when it could be used. We cannot have people being detained for three days and then released because the detention was for the detainee’s safety.

14. Perhaps the period should be shortened to one year and the six monthly review be carried out by properly qualified individuals who have the country’s interest heart besides a desire to maintain human rights.
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