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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Let Us Not Forget

Let Us Not Forget

This Hari Raya, sixty four individuals will be prevented from spending time with families and loved ones the way they rest us of will. What stops them from doing this is not a term of imprisonment, they have not been charged or convicted or any crime, nor incapacity, they are as capable as you and I. Detained under the Internal Security Act in Kemunting, the barrier that lies between them and the rest of us is the judgment of one man, the Home Affairs Minister.

As a young boy, I used to read ‘2000AD’. Through this I came to know of Judge Dredd and how he and his fellow police officers were ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’. And even though the guns, motorbikes, violence and women in leather were really my focus, an understanding of why the rules had to be suspended in that comic-strip world did filter through. The situation was extreme; these enforcers were the last bastions against a world of total chaos. They were the law because the situation demanded it.

The justifications the Government offers for its continued use of the ISA are strikingly similar. We have been told, in one form or the other, that those detained are threats to national security. We are urged to understand that there are compelling reasons that make it a matter of critical importance that they be detained without trial. Were they left free to work their schemes through to completion, it is said, the nation would be in grave danger.

As much as the current Home Affairs Minister may think he is Judge Dredd (tread with caution, the image of the Minister in leather, zips and boots is not for the faint hearted), he should perhaps appreciate more fully that Malaysia is not facing the kind of apocalyptic prospect that the ISA was designed for. The extreme gravity and urgency warranting summary detentions is conspicuously absent. We are a nation at peace; armed insurrections are a thing of a distant past. We would not be plunged into chaos, democracy destroyed, if we stopped to smell the roses, or try those detained in court for that matter.

Circumstances are such that we are left with little choice but to doubt the legitimacy of detentions under the ISA.

How are we to believe that those detained were in fact the serious threats they were supposed to have been when so many of them had gone on to serve the Government in one way or the other? Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim was detained in 1974 and kept in detention for some twenty months. He went on to serve the nation as Education Minister, Finance Minister and, ultimately Deputy Prime Minister. Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, our current Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation was also detained for some two months in 1991. They are just two of numerous instances.

How are we not to doubt the bona fides of detentions when the ISA was amended in 1989 to put the Minister’s decision to detain beyond the reach of the law. How else is one to characterize restricting the scope of review to merely matters of procedure? Scrutinizing detention orders to see whether the Minister dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s while he thumbs his nose at you from behind his legislative barricade is not a process that inspires confidence.

How are we to trust in the sincerity of explanations when though our current Prime Minister declared in 1987 that, “Laws such as the Internal Security Act have no place in modern Malaysia. It is a draconian and barbaric law.” he did an about face in 2003, saying instead, "We have never misused the Internal Security Act. All those detained under the Internal Security Act are proven threats to society”. The irreconcilable positions reveal just how far politics rules the day. That a significant number of those detained through the years have stood in the way of the Government’s political interests only goes to reinforce this impression.

Sadly though, what I have said here is not novel. Many before me have expressed the same sentiment, their pleas having fallen on ears deafened by other priorities it would seem. This has been aided in part by the way in which the issue has consistently been permitted to slip back to the periphery after the initial flurry of excitement and expressions of disbelief that mark the then most recent round of detentions. The issue lies there, in its dark corner, forgotten like those who have been detained; out of sight, out mind.

In allowing for this we have given comfort to the Government, indicating to it that as much as we may have disagreed, it is not a matter of great importance to us. We are as much to blame as those who put the detainees away.

Eid is a time for reflection and introspection; it is a time for resolve. This year as we celebrate and give thanks, perhaps we could pause to remind ourselves how fortunate we are for not having been forgotten, for being able to reach out to touch those who matter to us. Perhaps we could take a moment to see that we are really all that those who slowly fade away under the ISA have.

Let us remember them and the injustice that they have been made to suffer, let us not let others forget.

Eid Mubarak.

(Malik Imtiaz Sarwar is counsel to Raja Petra Kamarudin who was detained under the ISA on 12.09.2008. He is also the President of the National Human Rights Society and blogs as ‘Disquiet’ at

(Malay Mail; 30th September 2008)



Anonymous said...

Dear MIS,

You are indeed a real life Atticus Finch. Thank you again for your tireless work.

Selamat Hari Raya and best regards,

[ the 3RD PARTY ] said...

I read this OPEN LETTER (which sure with his own agenda) in Anwar Ibrahim' official blog .
Tell me what do you think ?

Who Is Baradan Kuppusamy?
By Anwar Ibrahim

Dear Abang Din,

Ramadhan Karim and I hope you are well and doing fine.

I’m an ardent reader of your blog and I leave a comment most of the times specially if the topic is “explosive” and heat generating. (I use the tagname Abdul/Abdullah in your blog). That said, you may know one Baradan Kappusamy who writes for whoever pays him or whichever paper that demands his article which is mainly an anti-Anwar articles. My Indian friends call him a “paid whore.”

His behaviour and hatred against Anwar is very strong and he strongly supports Najib and we have reports that he has been recruited by him to run down Anwar. You can see it his the Star commentary yesterday and today’s The Malaysian-Insider (both BN leaflets) which are simply hateful concoctions full of bigotry, biased reporting and hatred.

I have looked for his contacts and even my Indian friends failed to get them, I wanted to contact him concerning his shameful diatribe and hysterical hatred against DSAI but I can’t get his contacts. I have been told that he is a shadowy figure who is a hired assassin. Therefore, I appeal to you Abang Din to try your best to supply me with his contacts (email, or phone, or both) if you have them or can get them through other friends in the media. He sometimes writes in Malaysiakini, so may be you can get his contacts from your Malaysiakini friends and pass it to me through this email address. (I have also contacted Susan Loone just now and I hope she will answer me).

Yesterday, I have contacted blogger MagickRiver (Antares)**, an Indian Anwar supporter and he told me that he couldn’t get the contacts of what he called a “shameful paid whore.” So, try your best if you can get me his address. Otherwise, you can contact him ask him the cause of his hatred against Anwar. He should be bombarded with outrageous comments in relation to his outrageous conduct so that he knows there is a limit. I’m really mad at this shameful character.

Thanking you in advance
Happy Hari Raya.

Note from Din Merican: “Let us ban Baradan Kuppusamy from our PCs, if there is truth in this private e-mail to me. Salams.”

So, how do you feel when Anwar (or his mate) also :
1. Ban ! ban source of net info;
2. Search and call and seduce other to search for his foes;
These are going back to the zero point even worst !!!

Anonymous said...

History will mark this; that there was a man named Hamid Albar, like the senior, took laws onto his own hands, abused the system for political survival at the expense of innocent people.

I will not forget. My children will not forget. My great grandchildren will not forget.

Anonymous said...

Selamat Hari Raya MIS! May peace be with you ...


Anonymous said...

Botak Hamid is not on the receiving end, so he is going about his merry ways locking up innocent citizens under the ISA. It is my hope, the situation will reverse one day, he be caged like a dog.
"Men who made unforgivable mistakes while doing dirty work" certainly wrecked their victims' life and families deserve the highest punishment.

Anonymous said...

The present government has put in place someone who is oppressive, ruthless, uncaring, inhumane, power-crazy, arrogant, irresponsible and indifferent to have the sole authority to place any citizen in detention without trial at his own perception and discretion. Why should the citizen of this country accept that? This person is put in place by a so-called ruling party who has less than 30% of the voting population's support. Why are we allowing hom to have such absolute power? I think the ruling government has failed to protect the right of the citizen and allow them to be terrorised by such a rude person. The citizen must be given the right to counter this madness in empowering one person in the country to threatened the whole population. It looks like he is even more powerful than the PM and the King. His instruction to detain people as a result of his own perceived possibility of unrest from his self-proclaimed "majority" of the people (or his party member?) is most frightening and difficult for the ordinary people to comprehend. Can some rationality prevail in this country and put some sense to do what is right for the citizen and not the political party.

Anonymous said...

I wish you a Happy and Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!

And keep on fighting the ISA.

You will win in the end because you are doing the right thing and fighting for what is truly GOOD!

But for now, have a happy festival!

"Imagine Power To The People" John Lennon.

SFGEMS said...

Selamat Hari Raya to you and your loved ones from a frequent visitor to your blog.

Truly enjoy your writing.

Anonymous said...

Eid Mubarak to you MIS. May the Lord Almighty protect you as you go about fighting injustice in this beautiful land of ours. Shalom

Anonymous said...

Well, not too long after this, there will be another new ISA detainee - Sheih aka Kickdefella.

Seems to be begging for it. At a time when he should just lie low after the recent detention for sedition - in the name of prudence and common sense - what does he do?... pick a fight with Najib by bringing to light some controversial and unsubstantiated allegations.

I'm against the ISA. At the same time, I'm also against putting a chip on your shoulder.