Saturday, April 11, 2009

Finishing Point



Finishing Point

The Internal Security Act has no place in the modern society that Malaysia is. It was designed for a very different time and purpose. As Tun Abdul Razak emphasized in Parliament in 1960 when questioned by a very concerned Opposition as to the purpose of the then pending bill, it was intended only to address the threat to democracy that the Communist insurgency was.

As Malaysians learnt the hard way, it was used for more than that. It became the weapon of choice of politicians who were not averse to prioritizing their personal interests over those of the nation.

The populist gesture of releasing detainees by newly minted Prime Ministers underscores this point. Prime Ministers not having the prerogatives of Kings, there is no basis for benevolent munificence on their part. They are, like the rest of us, expected to act according to the law. The release of detainees is as such intended to reflect a departure from the policy positions of the previous administration and in this, the ISA invoked as a symbol of wrong to showcase a willingness to embrace what is right. The gesture as such proves the injustice that the ISA is.

In fairness, the gesture this time has come with a twist, the promise of a review. Though it is not clear what this means or even that it will occur, the Prime Minister must be given the benefit of the doubt. His concession has vindicated the movement against the continued existence and use of the statute. It also presents a useful opportunity to consider what it is that must be done and why it should be.

There have been numerous objective and careful studies conducted on the ISA by various interested parties. All of these have pointed to a need to review the law, some even going so far as to suggest a repeal of the statute. The essential point made is that the ISA is not consistent with guarantees of civil liberties under Malaysian and international law. The Government has consistently disregarded these suggestions and in justifying itself has pointed to the courts having validated the ISA and actions taken under it, and the need for anti-terror legislation.

Judicial decisions of the apex court have however been formulaic and shaped by an uninspiring view of liberty, more so since 1989 when judicial review was precluded by way of an amendment to the ISA. The quality of some of these decisions is also suspect, the conclusions drawn questionable.

For a successful review, a new approach must as such be adopted. This must be grounded on an acceptance of the immutable truth that our civil liberties are guaranteed in the widest sense and that government must be in accordance wit the Rule of Law.

The power to enact laws that impinge on these liberties can only be used sparingly and in a very narrow compass. Actions taken under these laws must be subjected to strict judicial scrutiny. Terrorism can be dealt with effectively without undue compromise of freedoms; societies across the world are doing just that using appropriately crafted anti-terror laws.

There is no point to a review if the Government wishes to preserve an unfettered power to detain at will. This must be the starting point of any discussion on the subject. If accepted, it will also be the finishing point: the ISA must be repealed.

(Malay Mail; 10th April 2009)

MIS

(Disquiet in the Malay Mail is now published on Fridays)

7 comments:

daysofourlife said...

it is my contention that the government will only abolish ISA if they can formulate another law to takes its place. they lack the confidence in their own unbiased governance and hence they still need to depend on the crutches of an act to silence their political opponents.

LAT said...

The fact that these 13 detaninees have been released at such time and date connotes nothing but they have been detained and released at the "Will and Fancy" by the relevant ministry with the Pm's instruction. As such, there is "Nothing" to review & amend concerning this archaic & dinosaurous age piece of ISA but be REPEALED & ABOLISHED and throw into the trash bin "NOT Even Worth To Be Recycle As Toilet Paper Roll!"

Hamba said...

Benefit of a doubt for najib's promise of ISA review? As was stated in the article itself the opposition at that time question purpose and intention of the bill and then on 'benefit of a doubt' give it a 'GO'. BUT LOOK AT WHAT IT HAS BOUGHT US!!! ISA USED NOT FOR COMMUNIST BUT FOR SILENCING THE OPPOSITION AND THEN WHEN THE GOVT IS AT THE VERGE OF LOSING POWER, ISA AGAIN USED TO PROP UP THE GOVERNMENT. THIS IS WHAT WE GET FOR USING "BENEFIT OF A DOUBT"! THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL IN A DEMOCRACY AND ESPECIALLY IN ISLAM. SO WHY SHOULD WE GIVE IT ANOTHER ROUND OF THE SO CALLED "BENEFIT OF A DOUBT"? WE TRIED THAT AND IT WAS ABUSED, SO NO MORE "PISANG BERBUAH DUA KALI'. SO FOR SOMETHING THAT'S CLEARLY AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION AND HUMANITY, DON'T GIVE IT THE BENEFIT OF A DOUBT! JUST GIVE IT A RESOUNDING NO AND A KICK AT THE BACK SIDE! THAT'S WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE TO THE BILL WHEN TUN RAZAK PROPOSED IT IN THE PARLIAMENT.

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

DON'T BE AMUSED BY WHAT CAN BE ABUSED AND MISUSED

What's the use of keeping something
That's frequently abused and misused
When there are better things to consider and think
About than using draconian means to be amused

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 120409
http://MotivationInMotion.blogspot.com
Sun. 12th Apr. 2009.

mauriyaII said...

ISA together with other similar acts which impinge on the freedom of the people in whatever form is not relevant today.

ISA was gazetted originally for one specific purpose and that was to curb the spread of communism and to styme the communist terrorists. We do not have anymore communist terrorists.

ISA has been deliberately used by the UMNO/BN to safeguard its interests under the guise that those detained under the draconian ISA were a threat to law and order and as enemies of the nation.

ISA is more often than not used to quieten dissent and suppress freedom of speech of the Opposition parties that question the various scandals and corrupt practices of the government.

Malaysia is the only democratic country which has the distinction of not allowing Opposition parties from holding demonstrations or rallies to highlight issues that are of importance to the nation and for clean, transparent and accountable governance.

On the other hand UMNO/BN parties are given a carte blanche to do whatever they like such as unruly, wild and violent demonstrations to incite the people into a mob frenzy. During such demonstrations the PDRM for whatever their ethics and work culture is worth, turn a deaf ear and a blind eye. Hooliganism and mafia style behaviour are blatantly promoted by this security agency of the government.

The UMNO/Bn government has not realized or understood the reasons for their dismal showing in the last General Elections and the 4 bye elections in Peninsular Malaysia. They have not understood the sentiments of the poor marginalized citizens who make up the majority of the people/voters in the country. UMNO/BN still believes in treating the symptoms and not the cause for their defeat.

The people are not interested in handouts, infrastructure development or the empty promises of socio-economic development. They want the grandios election manifestos that are paraded during election times to be implemented.

The people want the ISA to be REPEALED. They do not want another ISA in a different form or name.

The people want REAL CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. They do not want superficial cosmetic changes.

They don't need anymore political rhetoric. They are better informed notwithstanding the propanda by the MSM.

Treat all citizens as equal in every sphere of socio-economic development. Stop the rape of the resources of the country for the benefit of a coterie of people in government and their cronies.

Above all the people want their FREEDOM back.

Tommy Peters said...

'Naked aggression' is the term that describes the Internal Security Act whenever it is used against a civilian for any reason other than him being a genuine security threat, but ironically abolishing it would encourage the very aggression it was intended to prevent.

A plausible scenario. The Peoples' Coalition forms the government and the ISA is abolished. Al-Qaeda takes issue that the new government has withdrawn moral and logistical support for its Islamist brethren in Thailand and Philippines and takes out Suria KLCC with a nail-bomb. Hundreds die.

The sophisticated bomb is the handiwork of say, a particular Malaysian chemist with known links to the group. The academic is apprehended but charges cannot proffer on existing legislation.

Wan Azizah is Prime Minister and Teresa Kok heads the Home ministry. Not unlike Golda Meir in the 70s, Azizah is in a dilemma when her Home Minister is without teeth. Incidentally, Meir reluctantly sanctioned the extermination of the killers of Olympian athletes but that is another story.

India is another example. It exists without ’preventive detention’ legislation and every civilian, foreigners inclusive, is accorded due process. The end result is 'naked aggression' on its soil that 'liberal' academics at the helm are powerless to deal with.

Easter cheers, Tommy

Bobby said...

Your post was slightly later than the usual Wednesday. In any case, was looking forward to your usual dose of interpretation regarding the laws affecting Malaysia today.
There was an idiot (to put it nicely, I have worse names to call him) who wrote in the Sun today defending the use of the ISA. His reasons were totally skewed and he seems imprevious to logic.
I lived in the Kamunting area for the first 20 years of my life, and I have heard all the horror stories from my friends who were sons of the wardens.
The detention under ISA is worse than Guantanamo, and even US has closed down that camp.
Even the release of the 13 was conditional. "False" freedom, I call it. And this is supposed to be a gesture from the new government?
If we follow the reason of the idiot's letter in the Sun, then the end is nigh for the current government as the people will not tolerate this law and other fascist aspects any longer than 2013.