The purchase of land can be funded by other Pakatan Rakyat-led states, says Guan EngKUALA LUMPUR, 24 Sept 2008: The Pakatan Rakyat-led Perak state government should buy over the Kamunting Detention Camp and turn the area into a public housing project, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has suggested.
This radical idea is part of his “road map” to abolishing the Internal Security Act (ISA), Lim told the audience at a DAP forum on abolishing the ISA at the Chinese Assembly Hall, here, last night.
He called on lawyers to study provisions in the law, and said the purchase of the land could be funded by the other four Pakatan Rakyat states – Penang, Kelantan, Kedah and Selangor.
“Kamunting is in Perak which is an opposition state. And as we all know, land is under the state government’s jurisdiction and we can acquire it for our purposes. I urge lawyers to study this, and if we can take over Kamunting, we will turn it into a public housing project.
“No more Kamunting Detention Camp but Taman Bahagia Kamunting,” Lim said to loud cheers from the packed hall.
He said with the other four opposition states “chipping in” and with the help of donations from Malaysians, the conversion of the detention camp into a housing project could turn into “a national project”.
“I can guarantee you that as chief minister of Penang, Penang will definitely chip in the funds,” Lim said.
The DAP forum on abolishing the ISA featured eight speakersTurning to Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who was also a speaker at the forum, Lim said he would ask her to help Pakatan Rakyat study the law on acquiring the camp.
He added that if the government wanted to build a new detention camp elsewhere, they should not be allowed to do so in Pakatan Rakyat-led states.
Lim said the second part of his road map was to urge Pakatan Rakyat Members of Parliament (MPs) to move private members’ bills in the next Dewan Rakyat sitting to abolish the ISA. The House will reconvene from 13 Oct to 11 Dec.
“We will then see which Barisan Nasional MPs practice what they preach – whether they support the bill or not. Will any of them follow the example of former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who was the first minister to resign on principle?”
Lim was referring to various BN politicians who have been calling for either a review or total repeal of the ISA since the act was used to detain Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin on 12 Sept.
Tan and Kok have been released while Raja Petra has begun his two-year detention without trial in the Kamunting camp.
Ambiga says Guan Eng’s suggestion is merely symbolicAmong those from the BN who called for a review or repeal were MCA vice president Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn, Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen and Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.
Other speakers at the forum were Kok, Deputy Penang Chief Minister Prof Dr P Ramasamy, Gerakan Mansuh ISA chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, Sungkai state assemblyperson A Sivanesan, and Raja Petra’s wife Marina Lee Abdullah.
Reacting to Lim’s suggestion to take over the Kamunting camp, Ambiga said it was a “wonderful gesture but it would not solve the problem” about abolishing the ISA.
”Apart from being symbolic, I’m not sure it’s going to do much more than that. From a practical point of view, you would just be moving the facility to another state,” she said.