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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Release The HINDRAF 5

A while ago, we heard from the Government (of the Federation) of how the rakyat wanted the Internal Security Act to remain on the books. I have my reservations about the truthfulness of that assertion. Whatever the case, I believe that if the Barisan Nasional component parties are sincere in their self-declared aim of wanting to re-evaluate themselves, they must question their continued support and use of anti-democratic legislation like the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act.

In voting as they did this year, Malaysians were not only protesting, they went in search of a viable alternative. The Barisan Nasional must realize that it had allowed itself to become, or perhaps be portrayed as, a corrupt regime that considered itself above the law. This had largely been driven by the repressive methods that were allowed for by these self-serving laws. So much so that the rakyat had come to understand that the use of these laws, in particular the ISA, were not so much aimed at protecting the security of the rakyat and the nation but rather the interests of the Barisan Nasional.

If the Barisan Nasional wants to remain relevant, they will have to confront reality. The rakyat have spoken. They have not only signaled their rejection of the selfish ways of the coalition, they have also signaled their rejection of the methods the coalition has employed to its own ends.

Last December I wrote of how there was no justification to detain the HINDRAF 5 under the ISA. If they had committed crimes, the only proper thing to do was to charge them in a court of law and let due process run its course. I maintain this position.

In this context, the outcome of the General Election proves two things. Firstly, how deeply the issue of marginalization resonates with the rakyat. Whatever the posturing and the rhetoric, marginalization was the primary cause that underlay HINDRAF efforts.

Secondly, the outcome clearly establishes how Malaysians have matured far beyond May 13th 1969. If the Barisan Nasional government were to be believed, Malays would have only voted for Malays, the election result would have led to severe reactions and there would have been blood flowing through the streets as Malaysians turned on each other. As we saw, that was not the case. Malaysians transcended the parochial expectations of the Barisan, forging together in a common cause.

It is on the premise that I once again question the truthfulness of the stated belief of the Barisan Nasional government that the HINDRAF 5 are a threat to national security. The groundswell we experienced last Saturday clearly shows that they are not. Their detention cut, and continues to cut, into the consciousness of Malaysians of all ethnic backgrounds.

Mr Karpal Singh has called for the release of M Manoharan (Malaysiakini; ‘Karpal: Release Manoharan now’). He says, in effect, that by having voted for him in the context of GE2008, the people have declared that he is not a threat to national security. I agree with Mr Karpal but go further. The logic applies equally to the other detainees.

The step of releasing the HINDRAF 5 is an obvious choice in determining which of the series of conciliatory measures that the Barisan Nasional government will have to undertake first in order to win back the trust of the rakyat. Repealing the OSA and permitting publications of newspapers without permits follow closely behind.

Release the HINDRAF 5.



clearwater said...

Release the HINDRAF 5 immediately. Review all other ISA cases. Do the right and proper thing. Perhaps then, the people may see BN in a more forgiving light. There is always hope for redemption if you are gracious in admitting an error.

Starmandala said...

Excellent essay, Imtiaz. The BN really has no other option now but to evolve into a right-of-center version of the BR. There can be NO COMPROMISE on the abolition of all repugnant, odious and obsolete laws that serve no purpose other than prop up a corrupt regime bankrupt of ideas.

farida said...

Hear hear! His constituents must rise up and call for the release of their ADUN. Why are they silent when they need their leader to get going?

Unknown said...

I just dun understand our Malaysian law. In front of law, everybody is found to be not guilty until the judgement and offence is proved in court. As such, a person wic have murder conviction also being released under bail. What have this 5 people done? They are educated, an eye opener for indian society. Not only indian, they even fought for right for chinese and malays as well. So, whats the big deal? Just release all of them immediately!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Malik,

Perhaps the rakyat can make use of the internet to urge the government to repeal the ISA thru online petition (if this has not carried out before), which similar to the petition for a Royal Commission on Electoral Reform (RCER)

Anonymous said...

Good call, MIS.

YES, Release the HINDRAF 5!

In fact, I echo others...

ABOLISH the inhumane ISA

and release all detainees or let them defend themselves in court.

Navi said...

A Government scared of its own shadow. Thats why it needs the ISA, OSA etc.
Yes, let us get a million signatures if necessary to petition the abolition of these obsolte laws.

Anonymous said...


The Rakyats had put the Oppositions on the Stages on calling by Bersih, Hindraf Rally and PP or BR to fight, among others, Fairness for ALL, including ISA.
Can we see how the Oppositions and those Representative works?
Especially with the "Space" of the 5 Opposition's States!

The Rakyats had opened the Road for Oppositions
Please let the Rakyats see how the Oppositions can work the way through!

The Oppositions knew pretty well without 1/2 of the Parliament Seats little can be done along this line.
Since they have hidden the Fact, they should be the one to get this fixed!


Yes, the Hindraf 5 and other detainees to be released but it should be the job of the Oppositions!
Or, the points of electing Opposition in GE12 has lost!!

Old Fart said...

When parliament starts, the Government in Waiting (I refuse to call them opposition) should not allow proceedings until the Hindraf5 remain incarcerated.

Anonymous said...

It shouldn't take too much before the present government falls. Maybe at the next GE13, the Barisan Rakyat should campaign for the continuation of the ISA promising that all the BN MPs who seem to like it so much and think Kamunting is such a hot place will be sent in there to soak in the sun. It is not like as if this is now beyond impossibility. From allthe threats issued by AAB over the last few weeks, for the drawn keris and th threat to bathe it in blood, for Altantunya, and for a host of a whole lot of mischief, I think ISA's Kamunting sounds a better and well deserved place for these guys than a proper trial.

Donplaypuks® said...

If the Govt.disagrees with releasing the HINDRAF 5 and wants the peoples' views on ISA, The Printing & Presses Act, Rural Banishment Order et al, then I suggest we press for a National Referendum on each as a separate item and not an omnibus resolution.

Deep down in their minds and hearts the Govt. knows that arrests without probable cause, trial or review, dismissal of habeaus corpus etc are, beyond a shadow of a friggin' doubt, UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

These were some of the major issues that led to the American War of Independence and the French Revolution.

The people have been shackled, and the masses duped, by a compliant and corrupt Executive, Judiciary, Police & AG. The Royalty, if not partially culpable, have not been very helpful either.

All, to maintain this racist 'Ketuanan Melayu' belief. You think Bush or Hillary would last two seconds if they talked about White Supremacy? How and why do we let them get away with this in our land of milk and honey?

We should also make the IGP accountable for his claim that HINDRAF has affiliations with Tamil Tiger terrorists. Substantialte or RESIGN! And Najib & Pak Lah for using this as an excuse to arrest the HINDRAF 5 and others.

A couple of years ago, I would have brushed off 'Makkal Shakthi.' Today, 'People Power' is a reality!

So, Gibbons was right. Repression, repression, repression! It will never work!

Keith said...

I've read many blogs about the abolishment of the ISA, but none as well articulated as this.

The ISA and OSA are political tools used by the ruling party. It has no place in Malaysia, and should be repealed, never to be used again.

Why is a Selangor State Assemblyman detained in Kamunting? If the thousands that voted for Manoharan, (mostly Chinese) don't consider him a threat... what right does the Prime Minister have of holding him?
If thousands of Malaysian have voted him into the State Assembly, it shows that the rakyat want Manoharan to be freed, if the rakyat don't consider him a threat... where is the justification of detaining him?