PUTRAJAYA, 4 Aug 2009: The 1 Aug 2009 rally against the Internal Security Act (ISA), which allows for indefinite detention by the government without trial, was aimed at provoking the police into invoking the Act, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today.
“The police are now handling the matter. They can take whatever action they see fit (against the organisers of the rally) but some people want to provoke the police to ensure they are detained under the ISA.
“The present government has released many who were detained under the Act. There was no reason for the rally, actually. It was politically motivated,” he told reporters after chairing the National Inter-Ministerial Committee Meeting on the Influenza A(H1N1) Pandemic here.
He said since an assurance was already given by the prime minister, there was no need for the opposition to take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to champion its cause.
“We need to give a chance for the Act to be amended, although it would take a bit of time. It has only been four months since the prime minister took office.
“We need to consult all relevant parties for the amendment to be proper. The opposition just needs to be a bit patient.
“The fact that we want to review the Act shows that we are responsive to the wishes of the people. But the opposition is using this to their advantage. Any demonstration is not going to solve any problem. We have the Parliament and the government is elected by the majority.
“There are various avenues to air grouses but demonstration is certainly not one of them, especially after the prime minister has [already] assured [people] that the Act would be reviewed,” said Muhyiddin.
On another matter, the deputy prime minister said he had received a lawyer’s notice on behalf of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, stating the Opposition Leader’s intention to sue Muhyiddin for defamation.
“Yes, I have received the lawyer’s letter. I have also directed my lawyers to take appropriate action. I will not apologise as I was not lying in making the remark,” he said.
A day after the 1 Aug anti-ISA rally, Muhyiddin labelled Anwar a traitor. Muhyiddin’s remarks were carried on the front page of Utusan Malaysia on 3 Aug under the title Anwar Pengkhianat.
Anwar is seeking a public apology, failing which Muhyiddin will be slapped with a legal suit.
Asked to comment on a column in today’s Utusan Malaysia titled Melayu jangan jadi bacul, which called on Malays not to be cowards, Muhyiddin said the media was entitled to make its own comments.
“Maybe, they (Utusan Malaysia) felt that many quarters were challenging the rights of the Malay [Malaysians] and the Malay Rulers. Whatever it is, we do not want any untoward incident in the country.
“I hope statements [will] not be race-based. We have been independent for more than 50 years now and live in peace. We show respect towards each other. Challenging one another is not good for the country. I am not taking sides but just to remind everyone.
“A lot of statements are politically motivated. We need to safeguard the country’s peace and stability…that is important,” said Muhyiddin. — Bernama
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