IN light of the latest spate of arrests under the Internal Security Act (ISA), the legal profession, non-governmental organisations, politicians, and members of the public who oppose the use of the Act have come out to make a stand.
The Bar Council has slammed the arrests of Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin, Seputeh Member of Parliament and Kinrara state representative Teresa Kok, and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng under the ISA on 12 Sept 2008, pointing out that there are sufficient legal provisions in the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code to facilitate police investigations without the need to use the Act.
Raja Petra, Kok and Tan were arrested under Section 73(1) of the ISA, which allows for detention of up to 60 days. Under Section 8, the home minister can sign an order to extend the detention for another two years. There are ISA detainees who have been held at the Kamunting Detention Centre in Perak for years, according to the list compiled by Aliran Online.
Tan was released on 13 Sept after 16 hours in custody. Raja Petra and Kok are still being detained at the time of publication.
Tan was arrested in Penang for investigations into her report on then Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail’s alleged racist remarks at a ceramah during the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign in August. Ahmad has maintained that he was misquoted and refuses to apologise for the remark.
Raja Petra was detained for allegedly ridiculing Islam and Muslims in some of the commentaries published in Malaysia Today.
Kok was detained in Kinrara, Selangor, in connection with her alleged involvement with a petition to lower the volume of Masjid Kinrara’s speakers when announcing the azan (call to prayer). A Malaysiakini report, however, quotes the head of the mosque committee, Abdul Rahman Nasir, as saying that Kok was never involved in such a petition.