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Supporting detention without trial

“Don’t just look to our country only. See our neighbours or other countries. They too have laws more or less like ours or more stricter [sic].”

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, commenting on the need to retain the Internal Security Act (ISA), to “ensure economic and political stability”. He suggested that the Act be amended, or renamed, to be more appropriate to the times. (Source: ISA Can Be Amended, Not Abolished: Ahmad Zahid, Bernama, 1 Aug 2009)

Zahid failed to cite which nations the Malaysian government was currently emulating for its detention-without-trial legislation or how changing the law’s name would prevent the government from abusing human rights.

To date, the current administration, under Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has promised amendments to the Act but has steered away from removing the government’s powers to detain without trial. It also remains unclear when the Act will be amended.

Commenting on the Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) rally earlier the same day, Zahid said citizens need not be afraid of the ISA, if they had done nothing wrong.

“Any act that will replace the ISA should have the same objective, that is to safeguard the country’s security. At the moment it is not proper to abolish the ISA.”

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, on his party’s stand on the Act. Khairy said that the ISA was still relevant as a pre-emptive measure against threats such as terrorism, and took the opportunity to convey his condolences to victims of the Jakarta bomb attacks that happened a day earlier. (Source: Umno Youth Wants ISA To Be Amended, Not Abolished, Bernama, 18 July 2009)

Khairy isn’t the only one who cites “security” as justification for the ISA. Commenting on the capture of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader Mas Selamat, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that authorities had “sufficient information to arrest him under the ISA”. However, Hishammuddin was not forthcoming about what information the government had and merely asked for the public to believe him.

Worryingly, there have been notable instances of ISA detentions recently and throughout history where the “threat to security” remains questionable.

“We just want to show our support for the ISA. We will avoid any contact (with GMI). We are all Malays.”

Malaysian Silat Lincah Practitioners Association leader, Mahaguru Omar Din, when asked why his martial arts organisation was set to participate in a pro-ISA rally, planned for 1 Aug 2009. The rally, organised by Majlis Permuafakatan Ummah (Pewaris), called to its fold Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa), Coalition of Young Malay Graduates (GGMM), and a number of silat clubs. (Source: Anti-ISA rally: Opposing groups on collision course?, Malaysiakini, 24 July 2009)

Increasingly, the defence of the ISA is becoming intertwined with the idea of Malay identity, power and supremacy. Will a protest against the Act then be seen as an attack on Malay Malaysians?

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3 Responses to “Supporting detention without trial”

  1. roastpork says:

    “Increasingly, the defence of the ISA is becoming intertwined with the idea of Malay identity, power and supremacy.”

    Is it just coincidental that issues benefiting the BN’s stranglehold on power and gravy train get intertwined with the idea of Malay identity? NEP, ISA, MACC, PDRM, civil service, Anwar the traitor…

  2. Main says:

    There’s no need to actually say things and not act in this country whereby the sensitivities of the people must be taken care of. Most cases, as far as I can remember, were seen as a need to provoke the negative feeling of being somebody in Malaysia, which could invite negative impacts e.g. racial matters, laws, religions etc. So ISA was used to stop whatever was deemed a threat to the well-being of the nation.

    As if Malaysians are trouble-makers begging for leniency from the law.

  3. s.s.seelan says:

    Well, in Malaysia, everything must be seen through the mirage of race. If you protest that a particular act of the govt is unconstitutional … determine the race of the protester first. If you criticise the MACC for questioning a “witness” till 3am … determine the race of the person who is passing this “misinformation”. If you criticise the frequency of Indian [Malaysian] youths [being detained] under police custody … determine if it is an Indian [Malaysian] who is raising this “stupid” issue. If we ask whether there are no other Police Officers capable of taking over from the current IGP… go and check the colour of the skin of the guy who dares to ask what everyone is asking. And it goes on and on. But thank God for people like blogger Art Harun, RPK , Zaid Ibrahim, Tengku Razaleigh etc … Malaysia will be a great nation yet again.

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