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Civil societies draft memorandum on abolishing ISA

KUALA LUMPUR, 7 Oct 2008: Five civil society organisations have jointly drafted a memorandum calling on the government to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 and to release all detainees or charge them in court.

The Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH), United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong), United Chinese School Teachers’ Association of Malaysia (Jiao Dong), Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and the Malaysian Bar Council launched the memorandum today at a press conference held at the KLSCAH.

Representatives of the five organisations said the purpose of the memorandum was to rally support from other concerned organisations to demand the abolishment of the ISA.

The move comes in light of the recent ISA detention of Malaysia Today blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Sin Chew Daily senior journalist Tan Hoon Cheng and Seputeh member of parliament Teresa Kok on 12 Sept. Tan and Kok were later released.

GMI president Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, who was at the launch, said the memorandum was not an anti-government measure.

“We should not be seen as opposing the government but the sinister act itself. Any democratic country should not have this kind of legislation,” he said.

Representatives of the five organisations at the launch of the

The memorandum has two main objectives: to abolish the ISA; and to release detainees or charge them in court.

According to KLSCAH Secretary-General Tan Chin Chee, more than 30 organisations have endorsed the memorandum in the past two weeks.

He said the organisations plan to hold a mass endorsement ceremony on 19 Oct, and called on non-governmental organisations and political parties to support the effort.

“The Internal Security Act 1960 allows for detention without trial, which violates fundamental principles of natural justice and human rights. The ISA has also allowed the government to arbitrarily detain political dissidents and ordinary citizens. No democratic country can function properly in an environment where preventive detention laws such as the ISA are in place,” he said.

The memorandum will be presented to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar at a later date.

Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee president Edmund Bon in his speech said the Bar is always sensitive and concerned towards the issue of the ISA and the principal of law without trials.

“The Malaysian Bar and its 12,600 members from Peninsular Malaysia have been opposing the ISA for many years,” he said, adding that four of its members are still under detention.

He also expressed hope that the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) will also call for the government to abolish the ISA.

There are currently 64 detainees being held at the Kamunting Detention Camp, according to a report by GMI.

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