“The mechanism that we have under the ISA, specifically Section 8 and 73, can be challenged through the process of habeas corpus, which system is also prevalent here, and therefore, to say that the ISA is not up to the standard of humanity is wrong.”
Newly appointed Information, Communication, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim in an interview on BBC talk show Hardtalk. He said the process of habeas corpus allows Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees to apply to court and prove themselves free from all charges against them. (Source: Rais: Wrong To Say ISA Not Up To Standard, Bernama, 13 April 2009)
Rais was taking on detractors of the ISA, which allows for indefinite detention without trial.
“The rejection rate for the writ of habeas corpus for ISA detainees is almost 100%.”
KL Bar criminal practice committee chairperson Datuk N Sivananthan, in explaining why habeas corpus does not provide adequate checks and balance on abuses under the ISA.
He also attributed the high rejection rate of habeas corpus applications to the “extremely poor separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary” over the last 20 years, beginning from the 1988 judicial crisis. (Source: No real check and balance to ISA use, The Nut Graph, 14 Nov 2008)
“Detention without trial is easily the most draconian and controversial of executive powers available to a government vis-à-vis the basic rights of individuals.”
Rais, 14 years ago in his book Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia: A Study of Executive Supremacy (p. 249). In addition, he wrote: “The ISA does not speak well for the future of the rule of law in Malaysia. In fact, it is the main adversary of the rule of law. The abolition of the ISA is imperative.” (p. 366). (Source: Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia: A Study of Executive Supremacy, Endowment Publications: Kuala Lumpur, 1995)