Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The draconian ISA must be abolished

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein announced yesterday the conditional release of five Jemaah Islamiah members detained under the Internal Security Act ( ISA). Of the five, one had been detained since 2002 while the other four since 2007. 13 ISA detainees were also released on the first day Datuk Seri Najib became the Prime Minister a few months ago.

While the releases are welcomed, the government must be reminded that majority of Malaysians still want the draconian ISA to be abolished.

A Star report dated 8.8.2009 has quoted the Prime Minister as saying that the government will not use ISA to detain politicians. He said that ISA will only be used on those who jeopardize public unrest and security.

Given the government's past record of ISA abuses, can we trust Najib's assurance? Were not some politicians detained on the lame excuse that they had jeopardized public order and security?

The government cannot deny the fact that the history of ISA is a record of abuses by the previous Alliance and the present BN government. National security has often become an excuse for the use of ISA to detain political dissidents, unionists and activists.

In fact, Cabinet Minister Dato Shabery Chik had last year said that during Tun Dr Mahathir's leadership" many were detained under the ISA supposedly because they were a threat to national security when in actual fact they were a threat to his leadership"

Government's promises and assurance that ISA will not be misused or abused do not have credibility and cannot be accepted. Moreover, ISA cannot continue to exist as it provides for detention without trial which goes against the fundamental principle of the Rule of Law.The only right option is to abolish the ISA.

If Hishammuddin is not convinced that the majority of Malaysians want ISA repealed, then I will repeat my earlier challenge that the government should carry out a national referendum and let the people decide whether ISA should be abolished.

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