HUMAN RIGHTS RESOURCE CENTER MALAYSIA

ABOLISH THE ISA

This page is specially dedicated to monitor press reports, petitions, articles, memorandums, resolutions, detainee watch pertaining to the draconian Internal Security Act and will NOT cease to call for a total repeal and abolishment of this repressive law that does not respect human dignity and is an affront to human rights.

 

INTERNAL SECURITY ACT MALAYSIA

ALIRAN’S ISA WATCH – CLICK HERE.

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The origins of detention without trial

Preventive or executive detention without trial in Malaysia had its origins as early as 1930 during the British colonial regime. Essentially it was a political and administrative practice, exercised by the colonial government in power and aimed at individuals or groups who were deemed to be potentially dangerous to the State.  

In 1948, when the armed struggle of the Malaysian Communist Party began, the British High Commissioner proclaimed a state of emergency by passing the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which enabled the colonial government to detain persons for any period not exceeding one year, primarily to counter acts of violence. By the end of 1949, up to about 8,500 persons had been detained.  

When the Emergency ended in 1960 and the Emergency Regulations were repealed, the a parliamentary debate on the ISA established that the ISA was enacted for the sole purpose of fighting the communist insurgency and that it was intended as a temporary measure until the communist threat was removed. 

However, Parliament made the decision to continue with the ISA on the grounds that 600 armed terrorists still remained in the north and  could still pose a threat. However, once the 1989 Bangkok Accord was signed and communist activity ceased altogether, the need to persist with the ISA is no longer tenable and becomes highly questionable.  

Hickling, the original draftsman of the ISA, commented in 1962: “….I must hope that the practice of imprisonment without trial, charge or conviction admitted by the Act 1960 will not be regarded as a permanent feature of the legal and political landscape of Malaya or for that matter of Asia generally.” 

Since 1960, the ISA has been amended repeatedly to enhance the discretionary powers of the police and the Minister of Home Affairs. In 1989, an amendment was made to disallow judicial review in any court of law. As a result, the courts have adopted an unduly restrictive position in their treatment of habeas corpus and judicial review applications. In all these amendments, the trend has not been to strengthen the rule of law but to add to the already formidable array of executive powers. 

Preventive detention as a method of governance

Currently, there three major laws in force in Malaysia which provide for detention without trial: the Internal Security Act 1960, the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Prevention Measures) Act 1985.  

These laws enable the Minister of Home Affairs to detain a person for a period not exceeding two years on the suspicion or belief that the detention of that person is necessary in the interest of public order and security.  

In addition, there are eleven other pieces of legislation that curtail and/or marginalise civil rights. 

Detention without trial is the antithesis to the rule of law and it has come to be endorsed, if not accepted, when states are threatened by severe subversion or terrorism. We now see this happening in many parts of the  world, since the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11th September 2001. In Malaysia, the government has been praising the ‘virtues’ of the ISA and trying to justify it as an acceptable anti-terrorist instrument. 

By invoking draconian laws like the ISA, human rights are violated and individuals deprived of their civil liberties. The meaning of the phrase “prejudicial to the security of Malaysia” has not been defined objectively. Its interpretation has been left to the political expediency of  the executive. The courts have willingly complied and have divested themselves of the jurisdiction to question the subjectivity and discretion of the executive. As long as this prevails, the rule of law in the preservation of fundamental human rights becomes marginalised.        

Through the ISA, persons may be detained and held incommunicado in unknown locations for sixty days for interrogation. Denied access to lawyers, family and independent medical care, they are at grave risk of police brutality and abusive interrogation methods. There have been  numerous accounts of verbal abuse, threats of physical harm to detainees or their spouses, and humiliating experiences of being stripped naked and forced to crawl on the floor. 

Lets look at some of the detentions made under the ISA: 

·        Tan Hock Hin, a former Socialist Front legislator for the constituency of Jelutong, Penang, was detained for 15 years (1967-1982). 

·        Dr M K Rajakumar, a former president of the MMA, was detained for almost three years (1966-1969) “for consciously or unconsciously supporting policies that could help the communist cause.” 

·        Loo Ming Liong, suspected of being a communist, was detained for 16 years (1972-1988). 

·        Dr Syed Husin Ali, a sociologist in the University of Malaya, was detained for almost six years (1974-1980) “for being involved willingly and knowingly in an attempt to overthrow the government by force and for cooperating with the communists.” 

·        In Operation Lalang in 1987, 106 persons were detained under the ISA for allegedly being involved in activities “prejudicial to the security of Malaysia.” These included Lim Kit Siang, Leader of the Opposition, and Dr Chandra Muzaffar, a prominent human rights activist (both detained for two years), as well as university lecturers, environmentalists, businessmen and some members of UMNO. All had been critical of the government. 

·        In 1990, three persons were detained for taking part in a public demonstration that opposed the setting up of  a highway toll in Cheras. 

·        In 1991, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, brother of the then Chief Minister of Sabah, was detained for two years “for trying to champion the secession of Sabah from the Federation of Malaysia”. 

Why the ISA should be repealed

There are good reasons why an unjust law like the ISA should be abolished: 

·        The communist insurgency ended 40 years ago and there has been no real subversion or security threat to the country since the racial riots in 1969. Organised violence or acts of terrorism are not major problems in Malaysia. There is already sufficient legislation to deal with every conceivable eventuality relating to public order and security.  

·        There are no judicial or legislative safeguards against the abuse of discretionary power under preventive detention laws, nor statutory provisions that require periodic reports on preventive detention to be tabled before Parliament. All actions taken under the ISA are only subject to the discretion of the Minister of Home Affairs, whose decisions are based on the recommendations of the police. For example, the ISA has been invoked against those alleged to have spread rumours, forged passports, cloned hand-phones, or breached copyright laws. 

·        Although Malaysia has not signed and ratified all the conventions of the United Nations on human rights, as a member of the UN, it has an inherent obligation to respect and observe them. 

Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, international human rights lawyers and local groups have all argued and advocated changes in the legislation and administrative practices related to detention without trial. Some have accepted the need for a government to effect limited and restricted preventive detention in special circumstances that call for state action against individuals, who are de facto security threats. One of the salient recommendations was to provide for adequate judicial review of all administrative acts of the executive or civil service. There is as yet no sign that the Malaysian government is receptive to such recommendations. 

 The national security of any country is a sensitive area, where the secrecy demanded by the executive in safeguarding security is understandable to a certain extent. However, the ISA should not be used as an obstacle to preclude the courts from intervening in cases when an individual’s freedom is being violated. The courts have a clear duty to uphold the rule of law and to be vigilant in ensuring personal liberty, a duty that must not be obstructed by legislative and administrative powers. 

However much the executive may assert the necessity for it to be the ‘sole judge’ of the requirements of national security, it is essential for the courts to be satisfied that executive power has been exercised for the genuine purposes of national security. 

In the absence of judicial review and an independent judiciary, the ISA can become an instrument of the executive. This raises the danger that, at some future date, the executive could replace the rule of law completely, leading to a severely authoritarian government or even a dictatorship.  

It cannot be denied that the incarceration of persons without trial sets the stage for physical and mental illness which cannot be ignored or glossed over by the medical profession. 

31st January 2002

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Professor Hugh Hickling – Drafter of the ISA

 

Professor Hugh Hickling, who has died aged 86, was a colonial lawyer who assisted in the drafting of the Malayan, now Malaysian, constitution for that country’s independence from Britain in 1957; he also drafted Malaysia’s notorious Internal Security Act used to detain scores of suspected criminals without trial.

Hickling maintained that when he single-handedly drafted the act in 1960, he did not foresee that the law could be arbitrarily used to detain suspects. He said he had designed the measure, which allows indefinite detention without trial, to detain Communist insurgents, but it has since been used against opposition politicians, rights activists and suspected Islamic militants.

Article 149 of the Malaysian Constitution stipulates “special powers” for parliament against “subversion, organized violence, and acts and crimes prejudicial to the public” during a declared emergency. International rights groups have denounced the act, claiming it has been widely abused by authorities in both Malaysia and Singapore.

“I could not imagine then,” Hickling later wrote, “that the time would come when the power of detention, carefully and deliberately interlocked with Article 149 of the Constitution, would be used against political opponents, welfare workers and others dedicated to nonviolent, peaceful activities.”

But although in the past Hickling had questioned the application of the act, he changed his mind in the wake of worldwide terrorist attacks such as 9/11.

On leaving his last colonial post – as attorney general of Gibraltar between 1970 and 1972 – Hickling became an academic lawyer. His posts included that of lecturer in South East Asian law at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where he was awarded his PhD in Law, and of visiting professor at the faculty of Law at the University of Singapore.

As a lecturer in Malaysia he cut a distinguished, silver-haired and (in old age) stooped figure, invariably clad in short-sleeved batik shirt of fuschia or vermilion. An unconventional legal authority, in less environmentally-aware days he would arrive for class in a decrepit Peugeot car; latterly he rejected this in favour of the rickety, overcrowded public bus.

Sauntering into class, he would keep students alert, as one of them recalled, with “one of his loud, stupor-crashing guffaws, complete with broad, yellow-toothed smile and bulging eyes which looked like they might drop out of their sockets and roll on to the cement floor”.

In 1995, in recognition of his reputation and standing in the legal profession, Hickling was appointed adjunct professor of law at the Centre of South East Asian Law, Charles Darwin University, in Australia’s Northern Territory. Despite his many accolades, however, Hickling lived simply and impressed staff and students alike with his disarming humility.

He continued travelling to the Far East and Australia until last year, delivering lectures, reviewing examination papers and visiting his lifelong friends, colleagues and students. Over the years he was a regular at the Royal Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur.

Reginald Hugh Hickling was born at Derby on August 2 1920, and educated at Buxton College. His father, a police inspector, had hoped he would get into Oxford, but at his interview Hickling shocked the examiner by rating the poetry of AE Housman above that of Wordsworth, and was duly failed. Instead Hickling attended Nottingham University, where he was the youngest student to qualify as LL B, and became an articled clerk in a law firm.

During the Second World War, Hickling served as an ordinary seaman with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. His ship La Malouine, a 96-ft French corvette taken over by the British, was part of Convoy PQ17 on the Murmansk run carrying war material from Britain and America to the USSR; PQ17 suffered the heaviest losses of any Russia-bound PQ convoy, losing 25 vessels out of 36 to enemy action.

On D-Day, as a sub-lieutenant in command of a Mk IV Landing Craft Tank 1013, with LCT 1018 of the 43rd LCT flotilla, Hickling carried several hundred tons of ammunition and had to “dry out” on Sword beach for unloading: they had some difficulty as the troops they took over with the cargo failed to return after beaching.

In 1946 he resumed his legal career as a libel lawyer with the Evening Standard in London, but after the death of their firstborn son, his new wife suggested moving as far as possible from England. Hickling joined the Colonial Legal Service and in 1950 was posted to Sarawak, then a British colony, as assistant attorney general, and where, as he later noted, he “cheerfully assisted in the dissolution of Empire”.

In 1954, Hickling spent two months in the neighbouring sultanate of Brunei to research its prevailing constitutional status and to brief colonial officials on its history and traditions before the introduction of a written constitution. After submitting his memorandum, Hickling was immediately transferred to Malaya.

As parliamentary draftsman, Hickling later helped to frame emergent state’s constitution; as commissioner of law revision, he distilled the emergency regulations into the Internal Security Act. In 1960, for his contributions to Malaya, Hickling was awarded the Honorary JMN (Johan Mangku Negara) by the the Malaysian head of state, Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In his spare time Hickling was also a prolific author, publishing a dozen novels and collections of short stories, including Lieutenant Okino (1968), republished in 1997 as Crimson Sun Over Borneo. A poet at heart, he recalled his expatriate life in Sarawak drawing in “the scent of wood fires in the dusk, the occasional drums in the kampong, the bunga raya breaking open into a white globe in the darkness, its scent heavy and langourous, to die before dawn”.

As well as fiction, he published academic works on various legal topics, including a volume of essays on Malaysian law.

In the 1970s Hickling wrote a personal memoir recalling his time as legal adviser to the High Commissioner in Aden and south Arabia between 1964 and 1967. In his autobiographical Memoir of a Wayward Lawyer (2000) he defined law as man’s efforts to live harmoniously in society.

He was appointed CMG in 1968 and QC (Gibraltar) two years later. On his retirement he settled at Malvern, where he indulged his lifelong passion for the music of Mozart. He died on February 11.

Hugh Hickling married, in 1945, Beryl (Bee) Dennett, who survives him with two sons and a daughter; their third son predeceased him.

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PM Archive – Tuesday, 24 April , 2001  00:00:00

Reporter: Geoff Thompson

MARK COLVIN: To Malaysia where it’s number nine and counting. Today yet another Anwar Ibrahim supporter was arrested under the feared Internal Security Act.

That Colonial era piece of legislation was drafted in 1960 to enable the detention of communist insurgents without trial.

Forty years ago the law was drafted by an Englishman – Professor Hugh Hickling. He is now 81 years old and has been speaking to our South East Asia correspondent Geoff Thompson.

GEOFF THOMPSON: It was a rare show of tolerance from Malaysia’s police when a few thousand supporters of Anwar Ibrahim recently gathered in Kuala Lumpur to mark the anniversary of Anwar’s sentencing for abuse of power.

Even rarer because the protests came at the end of a week of a swag of arrests under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act.

The ISA arrests are continuing. Another Anwar supporter – Lokman Adam – was arrested today. He is the secretary of the Youth Wing of the National Justice Party led by Anwar Ibrahim’s wife – Dr Wan Azizah.

The blanket justification given for the nine ISA arrests so far has been the unsubstantiated claim that the detainees were planning a violent overthrow of the Mahathir administration.

It’s a justification that’s necessary. Because that’s what the ISA was designed for. It was a watering down of the emergency laws which governed Malaysia from 1948.

HUGH HICKLING: And then we ended up with a draft Internal Security Bill which was a kind of distillation of what was thought to be necessary out of the existing Emergency Regulations, you see. So that was the origin of the Act.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Meet Professor Hugh Hickling, the 81 year old Englishman who drafted Malaysia’s Internal Security Act in 1960.

HUGH HICKLING: Now I was just told to get on with it. So I got on with it. I actually objected to the, to the Minister. I was on very good terms with the Minister, and I said ‘well look here, you know, you can’t scrap the Emergency and then retain preventive detention in the law’ you see.

This is a good old common law lawyer point of view of course. And he said to me ‘well would you let these people out’. And at that time we had about 200 . I think it was about 200 odd, two to 300 odd suspected communist terrorists in detention, you see.

Now, they hadn’t been prosecuted for various reasons – mainly because witnesses didn’t want to come forward in the courts. So we had these people in detention. So I wasn’t particularly keen on seeing them let loose immediately either, so – perhaps foolishly, or not – but at any rate at the time I said ‘no I wouldn’t want to see them released’. And he said ‘well there you are’.

Well I said ‘yes this is all very well, but you know, you don’t want to keep people in detention without cause, but some other Minister might’. I mean, once you get this on the statute book, there it is you know.

GEOFF THOMPSON: And yes, there it is, still on Malaysia’s statute book – but with changes according to Professor Hickling. He drafted a law which allowed for judicial review. But now Malaysia’s Home Affairs Minister has the ultimate say.

Professor Hickling says the law was never designed to be used as it is today – to detain and intimidate political opponents.

HUGH HICKLING: The Act itself was really aimed at suspected communist terrorists and people indulging in violence you see. Now I left the country in 1962 – I didn’t come back till 1969 when I was working on some shipping law – and then I found that the Act has been used to – well against, you know, political opponents, people like that. It was being used against people who weren’t . hadn’t manifested any illegal activity – in my view.

But of course I don’t know . and it’s really quite improper for me to start saying anything about this.

GEOFF THOMPSON: But you support its continued existence.

HUGH HICKLING: Sorry.

GEOFF THOMPSON: You do support the law’s continued existence.

HUGH HICKLING: Well I’m sorry to say that . in the light of my own experience, I’m inclined to think you couldn’t really safely get rid of it at the moment.

MARK COLVIN: Professor Hugh Hickling speaking to Geoff Thompson.

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Draconian ISA not intended for politics

Reuters
Interview
April 18, 2001
KUALA LUMPUR
ALAYSIA’S tough security law — under which anyone deemed a threat to the government or country can be held without trial — was created to fight terrorists not political rivals, according to the Briton who helped draft it. 
 

Hugh Hickling, who worked on the Internal Security Act (ISA) after the country switched from British rule to independence in 1957, said the law was drafted to deal with communist rebels.

The spotlight fell on the (ISA) last week after seven opposition activists were detained ahead of an anti-government rally in the capital by supporters of jailed former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim — arch rival to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Police said the seven had sought explosives and help from Indonesia to hold violent protests. The opposition said the allegations were shameful and demanded the detainees be allowed trial to prove their innocence.

The ISA, which lets police lock up anyone for 60 days and thereafter for another two years if the government approves, has mostly been used over the last 20 years against dissidents accused of trying to destabilise the nation.

The colonial-era law has come under increasing criticism in modern Malaysia, with calls from many — including some government lawmakers — to repeal it.

“When we drafted it, we were aiming at organised violence,”

Hickling, a parliamentary draughtsman and legal advisor to authorities in 1960 in what was then Malaya when the ISA came into effect.

“We were thinking of communist terrorists, basically,” he told Reuters.

“The Act in its original form was never meant to be dropped on Chandra Muzaffar or somebody who’s just getting up, saying anything the government is wrong about,” he said during a visit to Kuala Lumpur.

Chandra, a wheelchair-bound politician and a harsh critic of Mahathir, was detained in 1987 in one of the biggest crackdowns under the ISA.

Hickling, however, said it was not for him to say if the ISA should be scrapped.

“As a lawyer, I’m all for its review but on whether it should be scrapped, I don’t know,” he said. “You’ve got a multi-racial society in which emotions can run high very quickly.”

LESS DRACONIAN THAN EARLIER EMERGENCY LAW

The communist rebellion against Malaysia ended in 1990. But Mahathir’s government decided to retain the ISA, saying the country still faced security threats. The opposition says the law is a convenient tool to muzzle government critics.

Hickling, who left in 1962 but has returned frequently for holidays or to lecture on law at local universities, said he never thought the ISA would remain unchallenged in court.

“That to me, would have been unthinkable.”

Mahathir said on Apr 16 the ISA would stay in place in its current form so long as there were people in the country who sought to topple the government by undemocratic means.

“It has served its purpose well,” the prime minister said.

Hickling said the ISA was a relic of an emergency law enacted by the British in 1948 during the communist insurgency.

In 1960, three years after independence, Malaya decided to revise the emergency ruling and Hickling was entrusted along with police and military officials to draft the ISA.

“We were told to see what should be kept and what should be thrown out,” he said. “So you could argue from the point of view of idiots like myself that the ISA represented a step forward.”

Hickling, now 80, said he could not remember if the ISA was used against political dissidents in its early days.

“But I remember Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first prime minister, giving a court affidavit once, which essentially said the whole purpose of the law was to fight terrorists and not to be extended to any Tom, Dick or Harry.”

He said Singapore, which became a part of Malaysia, before leaving the federation in 1965, has maintained its own version of the ISA.

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A law meant to fight organised violence 

KUALA LUMPUR: Last week’s Internal Security Act arrests have renewed the debate over how the law should be used, who makes the final decision and whether that decision can be appealed. MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said: “Even the drafter of the ISA, the late Professor R.H. Hickling, had said the act was only intended against communist insurgents and those bent on armed struggle.”

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek suggested it was for the police rather than politicians to explain the rationale for the detention of Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng, who was later released.

Philip Koh, co-editor of the latest edition of L.A. Sheridan and Harry E. Groves’ The Constitution of Ma-laysia, said: “There needs to be a major revamp of all legislation which provides for detention without trial.”

Noting that Section 8 of the act prevented judicial review in any court of any act or decision under the ISA by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and home minister, he said: “No ouster clause must prevail.”

Judicial review must be available, said the lawyer who defended three people arrested under the ISA during Operation Lallang in 1987.

In an interview with the New Sunday Times in 2006, Hickling said the ISA was being used against people for whom it was not intended. He said that in 1960, the then deputy prime minister and defence minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein “wanted to wind up the Emergency”.

As commissioner of law revision, Hickling distilled the emergency legislation, which had been in force since 1948, into the ISA Bill.

At the time, he said, there were 200 to 300 communists in detention. “I said to Tun Razak, ‘We can’t declare the Emergency over and still detain people.

“He said to me, ‘Would you let these people go?'”

Hickling replied: “No, but a time might come when a different minister might take a different view. Which is what happened, of course.”

Commenting on a 1987 Su-preme Court decision in the case of Theresa Lim Chin Chin and Ors. vs inspector-general of police that “from the wording of the provision(s) of the act (the ISA), there is nothing to show that it is restricted to communist activities”, Hickling said: “It is all provided by the preamble, but the preamble has not been adequately considered.”

The preamble refers to “the prevention of subversion, the suppression of organised violence against persons and property”.

“It was designed to be more limited in its scope than it is at the moment.”

Asked whether, in retrospect, he would have worded the ISA differently, he said: “No, I don’t think so. But if people won’t pay attention to the wording, what can you do about it?

“Organised violence is the key to this preamble, but a lot of people who had nothing to do with organised violence at all were being arrested.”

When he drafted it, the ISA allowed for judicial review. Now the home minister has the only say, but a detainee can make representations to the Advisory Board, or can apply to court for judicial review via a writ of certiorari or habeas corpus.

“I would want judicial review at all times.”

However, he said: “With terrorism around in the world, I don’t think it’s a good time” for a review of the ISA.

Philip Koh, who was a lecturer at the University of Malaya when Hickling was a professor there, said the procedures by which decisions were made under the ISA should be transparent.

“The procedure should be strengthened with checks and balances by a review tribunal comprising respected individuals from across the political divide.”

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Thursday September 18, 2008

Time to get rid of draconian ISA

Brave New World
By AZMI SHAROM
The preamble of the Internal Security Act is crystal clear in that it (ISA) was intended to be used for violent threats to the country.

ON June 21, 1960, in the Dewan Rakyat, then Deputy Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak said: “The Government has no desire whatsoever to hinder healthy democratic opposition in any way. This is a democratic country and the Government intends to maintain it as such. It is the enemies of democracy who will be detained.”

He said this during the debate on the Internal Security Bill and it is reported in the Hansard.

The Bill of course went on to become our infamous Internal Security Act (ISA).

It is a tough law but it must be remembered that as broad as the powers given to the Government are; the preamble of the Act has this to say:

“[This is] An Act to provide for the internal security of the Federation, preventive detention, the prevention of subversion, the suppression of organised violence against persons and property in specified areas of the Federation and for matters incidental thereto”.

The late Hugh Hickling, the drafter of the ISA, had said in interviews shortly before his death, that the preamble is crystal clear and that the ISA was intended to be used for violent threats to the country.

The late former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Hussein, when confronted with the draconian nature of the Act, admitted that it was so.

However, he also pointed out that the normal workings of a democracy, such as a free press, would keep the Government in check and be a disincentive for them to abuse their powers.

What we have here is a forgotten little piece of history.

The ISA was drafted to battle the violent communist insurgency, and, one presumes, other threats of the same ilk.

As stated by the father of the current Deputy Prime Minister, it was not meant to stifle democracy. And furthermore, it is the very mechanisms of democracy, such as a free press, that will keep the use of the ISA in check.

In this light, we can see that the powers provided by the ISA have been severely abused over the decades.

The latest example of course is the arrest of Raja Petra Kamarudin, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng.

The reasons for the detention of the three have nothing to do at all with any sort of violent action or even proposed violent action on their part.

In the case of Tan, the justification for her 16-hour detention was so ludicrous and so obtuse, that it beggared belief.

The ISA was not meant to be used as a personal protection device. And pray tell how a 16-hour detention after which the individual was released back into the public sphere can be considered “protection”?

Raja Petra is currently being charged for criminal defamation and sedition.

He is facing the law in open court where he shall be accused and he shall have the opportunity to defend himself or he would have done if he was not locked up right now.

Why on earth is he being detained? Is he planning some sort of armed rebellion? There is no evidence at all to indicate even the slightest hint of that.

And Kok is being detained because some political opponents have decided to accuse her of offending Islam.

If these accusations are false, and there are indications that they are, then there is a term for this kind of behaviour – fitnah.

Fitnah is the most despicable crime committed only by the most despicable of creatures.

I am disgusted by the latest use of the ISA. It is undoubtedly going against the spirit and the intention of the ISA.

The arrest of Raja Petra, Kok and Tan also shows that the law is so open to abuse that we have no other choice but to get rid of it. There can be no room for amendments.

The ISA must go.

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GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA
(ABOLISH ISA MOVEMENT)
 
 
MEMORANDUM TO
MALAYSIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (SUHAKAM)
 
15 SEPTEMBER 2008
 
STOP USING ISA ONCE AND FOR ALL!
RELEASE ALL ISA DETAINEES IMMEDIATELY!
 
Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) or Abolish ISA Movement which consists of more than 83 non-governmental organisations, political parties, trade union, human rights bodies, women and student bodies, and the undersigned Civil Society Organizations, express our utter disgust over the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) on 58-year-old editor of popular news portal Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Tan Hoon Cheng, 33, a senior journalist for the Chinese language Sin Chew Daily and DAP MP and Selangor senior state exco Teresa Kok, 43.
 
1.         ISA is unjustified and indefensible
The use of ISA is totally unjustified and indefensible. There are ample other laws that can be used without having to violate the detainee’s right to trial. It is regretful that the government decided to switch from the use of the court of law to the use of the ISA in dealing with Raja Petra, YB Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng. The use of the ISA is in stark contradiction with the Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It only goes to show that despite being a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Malaysian government pays scant respect to human rights.
The ISA crackdown began with Raja Petra, 58, who has targeted government figures on his website Malaysia Today.  He was detained at 1.10pm on 12 September 2008 . Tan Hoon Cheng, 33, a senior journalist for the Chinese language Sin Chew Daily, was later arrested at about 8.30pm . She was detained in connection with her report regarding the derogatory remarks made by an UMNO leader against the Chinese community which led to a national uproar. Close to midnight , DAP MP and Selangor senior state exco Teresa Kok, 43, was detained outside her condominium. The arrests elicited a round of strong protests from all quarters, including those within the BN component parties.
The three of them were arrested under Section 73(1) of the Internal Security Act 1960. Under section 73(1), the police can detain a person for a maximum of 60 days for investigations. Based on the outcome of the probe, a person can be detained for two years without trial, and the two-year term can be renewed indefinitely.
The recent arrest is a clear example of police abuse of power and unaccountable arbitrary powers to arrest and detain a person without any grounds and justification in Malaysia . The Royal Commission on police in its 2005 report echoed concerns that the existence of preventive detention laws in Malaysia have given rise to police abuse of power and arbitrary action. Amnesty International in its report “Towards human rights base policing” highlighted the fact that there is a perception that the police is being dominated for political reason by a single political party. This perception was further confirmed by the Royal Commission on police when it called for the accountability of the Special Branch in recognizing that the agency may be manipulated by a party in power for political purposes.
The ISA is contrary to fundamental principles of international law, including the right to liberty of the person, to freedom from arbitrary arrest, to be informed of the reasons for arrest, to the presumption of innocence, and to a fair and open trial in a court of law. The act also promotes a climate of impunity and arbitrariness in a nation that just celebrated its 51st anniversary of Independence .
After continuous pressure from the local and international civil society organization’s Sin Chew Daily News reporter Tan Hoon Cheng has been released on 13 September in Bukit Mertajam at 4.15pm .
Currently, Raja Petra Kamaruddin and MP Teressa Kok are still being held under police custody. They both have been denied access to lawyers and families. We still have not been informed of their status. Today, GMI received a call from Madam Marina Lee, wife of Mr. Raja Petra Kamaruddin, about his condition. Madam Marina told GMI that Mr. Raja Petra is now undergoing a hunger strike and this may put him in a weaker state of health. She believes that the police should allow family to visit him as they will be able to convince him to stop his hunger strike which might cause damage to his health.
 2.        Who is Raja Petra Kamaruddin and why was he arrested?
Raja Petra Kamaruddin is the convener of the website “Malaysia-Today”, which has unveiled numerous cases of corruption and abuse of power by the government. This is the second time Raja Petra has been detained under ISA, which allows for indefinite detention without trial. His first arrest under the ISA was on April 11, 2001 and he was released after 53 days in detention. This time, RPK was arrested at 1.10pm on Friday September 12, 2008 , under Section 73(1) of the ISA for allegedly being a threat to security, peace and public order. He is alleged to have posted articles deemed seditious and that also belittle Islam. The Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) and several Muslim organizations lodged a police report against him for allegedly insulting Malays, Muslims and Islam.
The two articles that were cited are “I promise to be a good, non-hypocritical Muslim” and “Not all Arabs are descendants of the Prophet”. Many people – Muslims included – who read them found nothing offensive in them about Islam. It seems to be a case of simply finding an excuse – any excuse – to arrest him, because his political writings have frequently embarrassed government leaders. Excuses related to religion, especially Islam, have, in the past, usually been emotive enough to gain public sympathy.
3.         Who is Teresa Kok and why was she arrested?
Teresa Kok is the Member of Parliament for Seputeh, and a senior Executive Councilor of the Selangor State Government. She was arrested under the ISA at 11.18pm , Friday September 12, 2008 , for allegedly causing tension and conflict among races as laid out in the notice issued by the Special Branch police to her next of kin. Kok had “acted in a way which threatened national security, which warranted arrest under Section 73(1) of the ISA”, by being involved in “activities which can cause tension and conflict among races and religions.” It was claimed by former Selangor Menteri Besar, Dr. Khir Toyo, that she organized a petition against mosque officials in Kota Damansara, Sri Serdang and Puchong Jaya to lower the volume of the azan (call to prayer) at a mosque.
Teresa Kok has denied organizing any such petition; Abdul Rahman Nasir, head of the Masjid Kinrara committee (the mosque in question); and YB Siti Mariah of PAS who is the MP for Kota Raja, has also denied that Teresa Kok was involved in any such petition, which was actually initiated by an individual in the community. The petition was not to lower the volume of the azan itself but that of the ceramah delivered after the prayers.
4.         Security and well being of detainees must be guaranteed
GMI is extremely concerned about the well being of the detainees. The history of the ISA reveals that many detainees were subjected to torture, inhuman and degrading treatments, especially during the first few weeks of detention. The ISA provides for ‘preventive detention’ without trial for an indefinite period. It violates fundamental rights such as the right to trial, the right to legal counsel, the right to defend oneself in open court and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. It goes against the principles of justice and undermines the rule of law.
5.         The detention and release of Tan Hoon Cheng
Tan Hoon Cheng, a journalist with a local newspaper, Sin Chew Daily News, was arrested under the ISA at 8.30pm , Friday September 12, 2008 at her home in Penang . She is believed to have been arrested due to her report of the statement made by Ahmad Ismail , a member of the ruling party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO). Ahmad was reported as having made a statement that Chinese Malaysians are “squatters” in the country. She was released after being detained for 16 hours. Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar claimed the decision to detain her was made by the police, not him.
He further claimed that she was detained to ensure her own safety, as her life was in danger. This is preposterous and totally absurd and brings new meaning to the word detention. How would a person be protected by detaining her under the ISA, interrogating har and depriving her of sleep?
Sin Chew has defended Tan by stating that Ahmad himself did not deny the report; he merely said it was the context of the report that was wrongly reported. The article was about the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign and was therefore not the focus of the story. The report was factual, with no manipulation of words to play up the issue. Finally, she was not the only one who reported it – journalists from other newspapers were present and all affirmed that they had heard the same remarks.
We wish to read the excerpt of a question asked by the press to Syed Hamid Albar:
Q: Is Ahmad Ismail above the law?
A: He has been punished so far as the party is concerned. At the same time there is a report against Ahmad Ismail and we are investigating it. I don’t think we treat politicians differently. We have taken action. That politician has been suspended three years by the party. He lost all his position. At the same time there is a police report of sedition made against him..
6.         No One is Above the Law?
Based on this, perhaps Ahmad Ismail is not above the law but his party is! Raja Petra has also been charged for sedition and criminal defamation. Why then is he being detained under ISA when he has these charges upon him? Should not he and Teresa deserve the right to defend themselves just as Ahmad did? The arbitrary nature of ISA provides room for such travesty of justice. The lack of judicial check on ISA permits ambiguity and baseless unproven allegations.
Therefore, GMI calls on SUHAKAM:
  1. To urge the government to release Raja Petra and Teresa as well as all other ISA detainees in Kamunting detention camp immediately or charge them in court of law;
  2. To use its power to visit detention places to ascertain the whereabouts of Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Ms. Teresa Kok, and make immediate visits to detainees and  ensure that detainees are free from torture and all other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment;
  3. To have a monitoring mechanism to ensure detainee’s rights are upheld.
  4. To reject any notion of the government to use ISA as a crackdown on dissidents
  5. To ensure the well-being and welfare of the detainees and families of ISA detainees including from the harassment and mental torture of the Police Special Branch, Detention Camp and Ministry of Internal Security;
  6. For the interim, to get the government to allow the detainees rights to have legal access and medical access and also urge the Home Minister to allow the family to visit the detainees;
  7. To ensure that the government implements recommendations made by the Royal Commission to improve the operations and management of the Police to establish an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commissions (IPCMC);
  8. To strongly urge the government to stop using ISA once and for all, respect basic human rights, rule of law and repeal the ISA.
Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh
Chairman GMI
This Memorandum is also endorsed by:
1.        Alaigal
2.        All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
3.        Amnesty International Malaysia
4.        Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)
5.        Civil Rights Committee , Kl-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC, KLSCAH)
6.        Community Development Centre (CDC)
7.        Food Not Bomb (FNB)
8.        Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
9.        Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
10.     Monitoring Sustainability  of Globalization (MSN)
11.     Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
12.     Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
13.     Research for Social Advancement (REFSA)
14.     Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
15.     TENAGANITA
16.     Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
17.     Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)
18.     Worker Organization Malaysia (WOM)
19.     Youth For Change (Y4C)
20.     Youth Section of The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
21.     Youth Section of Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall
22.     Youth Section of Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall
23. Youth Section of The Federation of Chinese Associations, Johor state

 

FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE MALAYSIA-TODAY BLOGGER, AND I DID NOT SPEAK OUT BECAUSE I WAS NOT A BLOGGER.

 

THEN THEY CAME FOR THE SIN-CHEW JOURNALIST, AND I DID NOT SPEAK OUT BECAUSE I WAS NOT A JOURNALIST.

 

THEN THEY CAME FOR THE SASSY MP, AND I DID NOT SPEAK OUT BECAUSE I WAS NOT AN MP.

 

THEN, THEY CAME FOR ME. BUT THERE WAS NO-ONE LEFT TO SPEAK OUT. 

ALL ANAK BANGSA MALAYSIA CALLS FOR THE TOTAL ABOLITION OF THE DRACONIAN ISA.  ISA DOES NOT RESPECT HUMAN DIGNITY AND IS AN AFFRONT TO HUMAN RIGHTS!! 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Malaysian Bar passes resolution on ISA at EGM(20/9/2008)

The Extraordinary General Meeting of the Malaysian Bar today(20/9/2008) unanimously passed the following Resolution

THE RESOLUTION

WHEREAS

THE MALAYSIAN BAR:

(a) Outraged that the Internal Security Act 1960 (‘ISA’) has recently been used to arrest Raja Petra Kamaruddin (a blogger), Tan Hoon Cheng (a journalist) and Teresa Kok (a member of Parliament);

(b) Deeply concerned that at present, there are more than 60 individuals detained under the ISA;

(c) Reiterating its earlier call, by its resolution of 15 March 2008, for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons presently detained without trial, including Manoharan a/l Malayalam, Uthayakumar a/l Ponnusamy, Kengadharan a/l Ramasamy, Ganabatirau a/l Veraman and Vasantha Kumar a/l Krishnan;

(d) Asserting the importance of upholding the Rule of Law, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the Rukunegara;

(e) Reaffirming the Bar’s continued and unequivocal opposition to the ISA and all laws that allow for the detention of persons without trial, as they are unconstitutional, oppressive and undermine the Rule of Law;

(f) Taking note that, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Government must fulfil the pledges it made, inter alia, to “promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms” and to promote “a free media, including in cyberspace”; and

(g) Deeply concerned that on 11 September 2008, the Government sent show-cause letters to three newspapers namely, Sin Chew Daily, The Sun and Suara Keadilan, regarding the reporting of certain issues.

NOW RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS, THAT:

1. The Malaysian Bar strongly condemns the arrests of Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Tan Hoon Cheng and Teresa Kok and strongly calls upon the Government to immediately and unconditionally release Raja Petra Kamaruddin, who is still being detained.

2. The Malaysian Bar strongly calls upon the Government to immediately and unconditionally release all persons presently detained without trial, including Manoharan a/l Malayalam, Uthayakumar a/l Ponnusamy, Kengadharan a/l Ramasamy, Ganabatirau a/l Veraman and Vasantha Kumar a/l Krishnan, who were ordered to be detained for two years from 13 December 2007.

3. The Malaysian Bar strongly calls upon the Government to immediately repeal the ISA and all other laws that allow for the detention of persons without trial such as the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 and Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985.

4. The Malaysian Bar strongly condemns the issuance of the three show-cause letters to Sin Chew Daily, The Sun and Suara Keadilan and strongly calls upon the Government to immediately withdraw the show-cause letters.

5. The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to uphold its pledges to the United Nations Human Rights Council to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to promote a free media, including in cyberspace.

6. The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to demonstrate its commitment to, and to uphold, the Rule of Law as enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the Rukunegara.

 __________________________________________________________________________________

Malaysia’s Internal Security Act and Suppression of Political Dissent
A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder

Since the September 11 attacks in the United States, Prime Minister Mahathir has justified use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) on counter-terrorism grounds. The September attacks also prompted a major shift in U.S. policy regarding political repression in Malaysia. In July 2001, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington, D.C. just weeks after Anwar Ibrahim’s wife, Wan Azizah, met with senior State Department officials. State Department officials reportedly told the foreign minister that a meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Mahathir could take place only if there were progress on Anwar’s case and in the treatment of political dissidents. But when Mahathir and Bush met at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Shanghai last October, Bush made no public comment on Malaysia’s human rights record or the detention of political dissidents. The White House subsequently agreed to Mahathir’s visit this week, from May 13-15, to thank him for Malaysia’s efforts against terrorism.
But the draconian and anachronistic ISA has long been and continues to be used as a tool to stifle peaceful political dissent. Political activists in the past have been detained under the ISA for more than a decade without trial. President Bush must make it clear that the fight against terrorism does not justify the wholesale use of the ISA to suppress dissent, to violate internationally guaranteed rights to due process and freedom from arbitrary detention, and to undermine the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Those suspected of involvement in violent acts including acts of terrorism should be charged and brought to trial under Malaysia’s criminal laws.

 

Malaysia’s Internal Security Act (ISA) is a preventive detention law originally enacted in the early 1960s during a national state of emergency as a temporary measure to fight a communist rebellion. Under Section 73 (1) of the ISA, police may detain any person for up to 60 days, without warrant or trial and without access to legal counsel, on suspicion that “he has acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof.” After 60 days, the Minister of Home Affairs can then extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely.

 

The law has repeatedly been criticized by Malaysian human rights groups, the Malaysian Bar Council, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, and international human rights groups, which called for its repeal. The ISA’s provisions violate fundamental international human rights standards, including prohibitions on arbitrary detention and guarantees of the right to due process and the right to a prompt and impartial trial.The U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices issued on March 4, 2002, was highly critical of Malaysia’s continued use of the ISA and noted that last year, “police increased their use of the ISA to arrest and detain many persons, including members of the political opposition, without charge or trial….In the latter half of the year, the Government stepped up its pro-ISA rhetoric.”Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed has vigorously defended the use of the ISA, saying it has been useful in fighting insurgent groups threatening national security. In November 2000, the ruling coalition suffered a by-election defeat in Mahathir’s home district in Kedah state and the government faced increasingly vocal opposition protests. Not for the first time, it used the ISA against its political opponents. Among those targeted under the ISA were minority Shi’a Muslims, supporters of jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and youth leaders in the opposition Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS, Partai Islam Se-Malaysia), although individuals linked to specific violent acts were also among those detained.The Act provides for arbitrary arrest and detention without trial for an indefinite period based on mere suspicion that one “may be likely” to commit an act deemed dangerous to national security. A detainee is, therefore, presumed guilty without trial. It further allows a detainee to be held under solitary confinement for 60 days without legal counsel.When the Act was first adopted, it did allow for judicial review, but since then, the ISA has been amended over 20 times, and this provision has been removed. Absolute power is given to the Minister of Home Affairs to arbitrarily detain anyone, without reference to the courts.

In addition to provisions for arrest, the ISA allows for restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and expression, freedom of movement, residence and employment. It also allows for the closing of schools and educational institutions if they are used as a meeting place for an unlawful organization or for any other reason are deemed detrimental to the interests of Malaysia or the public.

Over the years, the Malaysian government has consistently used the Act for its own political purposes to detain thousands of citizens, including political opposition leaders, academicians, trade unionists, religious, social, environmental, and women’s rights activists. The ISA was used to arrest political opponents of Mahathir in a major crackdown in 1987-88, as well as politicians in Sabah, east Malaysia, in 1990, whose party was considered a major rival to the ruling party, UMNO. In November 1997, ten people were arrested under the ISA for allegedly spreading Shiite teachings deemed detrimental to national security; Muslims in Malaysia are Sunnis. The ISA was used in 1998 to arrest Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and six of his political supporters. Anwar was the primary leader of opposition to Mahathir, and is currently serving a 15-year sentence following convictions in 1999 and 2000 in politically motivated trials for sodomy and corruption and abuse of power.

Former ISA detainees have testified to being subjected to severe physical and psychological torture, including allegations of physical assault, forced nudity, sleep deprivation, around-the-clock interrogation, death threats, threats of bodily harm to family members, including threats of rape and bodily harm to their children. Detainees are often kept in solitary confinement in tiny, dark cells. Prolonged torture and deprivation have led to some to sign state-manufactured “confessions” under severe duress. During the first trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, police admitted to the courts that the process of ‘extracting confessions’ under duress was standard practice. Currently, there are 105 ISA detainees being held in Kamunting prison camp.

In April 2001, prior to a planned a demonstration marking the second anniversary of the sentencing of prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysian police detained nine opposition activists and a human rights defender under the ISA:

  • Chua Tian Chiang, Vice President, Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKN – National Justice
  • Party, known as Keadilan);
  • Mohd Ezam Mohd Noor, National Youth Chief, PKN;
  • Haji Saari Sungip, PKN activist;
  • Hishamuddin Rais, media columnist and social activist;
  • Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Director of Free Anwar Campaign;
  • N. Gobala Krishnan, Secretary General, PKN Youth;
  • Abdul Ghani Harun, PKN Youth Central Committee member;
  • Dr Badrul Amin Baharom, PKN Youth leader;
  • Lokman Nor Adam, Executive Secretary, PKN Youth Wing;
  • Badaruddin Ismail, human rights defender.

Five of the activists belonged to the opposition PKN party, headed by Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah. The detainees were apparently also planning to submit a memorandum to the Malaysian Commission on Human Rights regarding Anwar’s trial. Dr Badrul Amin Baharom and Lokman Nor Adam, leading members of the PKN, were arrested on April 20, 2001. Dr. Badrul Amin Baharom was released on November 2, but tight restrictions were placed on his movements and he was prohibited from speaking publicly. He broke the restrictions and was rearrested on January 31, 2002. On 26 April 26, 2001 Malaysian police arrested human rights defender Badaruddin Ismail, who is a member of the secretariat of a leading human rights organization, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram, Voice of the Malaysian People). He had been assisting families of detainees and monitoring the National Human Rights Commission enquiry into police brutality. No reason for his arrest has been given.

On May 30, in an unusual and courageous ruling, Judge Hishamuddin Yunus ordered the release of two ISA detainees on a writ of habeas corpus (an order that a prisoner to be brought before a court to determine whether his detention is lawful), and suggested that the parliament should review and either scrap or amend the ISA to reduce its potential for abuse.

In July 2001, the authorities detained two student activists, Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainuddin and Mohamad Fuad Mohamad Ikhwan, under the ISA, the former for twenty-three days and the latter for ten days. Also in July, the government banned all political rallies stating that they would undermine the country’s security. When the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), an opposition party making inroads since the 1999 general election, subsequently planned a series of meetings to protest the policy, police refused to grant permits and dispersed those who attempted to attend.

On August 2-4, police detained another ten people under the ISA, all of whom were affiliated with or supporters of PAS, including four prominent youth leaders. The authorities said the ten belonged to a group (known by the initials KMM) that planned to overthrow the government, sometimes labeling the group the Malaysian Militant Group and sometimes the Malaysian Mujahedin Group.

One of those detained, Nik Adli Nik Aziz, was the son of a leading PAS official. The authorities alleged he had received military training in Afghanistan and had learned bomb making from Muslim rebels in the Philippines, but he denied this and PAS leaders emphasized that they used only peaceful, democratic means in their struggle against the ruling coalition. As of May, most of them were still detained under two-year detention orders.

The police have claimed that the opposition PKN party activists were planning violent street demonstrations to overthrow the government although no evidence supporting this accusation has ever been presented before the courts. Many non-governmental organizations believe the real reason for the arrests is to suppress legitimate peaceful dissent against the arrest and sentencing of Anwar Ibrahim. The Malaysian Human Rights Commission has repeatedly said that detention without trial under the Internal Security Act violates fundamental human rights, and if the detainees were not charged and tried in an open court they should be immediately released.

Following their initial detention, the families of five of the detainees–Mohammad Ezam Mohd Noor, Haji Saari Sungip, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Dr Badrul Amin Baharom and Lokman Nor Adam–expressed concern that while the detainees did not show signs of physical assault, they were unwilling to speak of their interrogation, and returned repeatedly to the subject of the safety of their families. To date, two of the detainees have been freed pending their Federal Court case (Gobala Krishnan Abdul Ghani Harun) and six (the “ISA Six”) remain under two-year detention order in Kamunting Detention Center in Northern Perak state: Badrul Amin, Chua Tian Chang, Hishamuddin Rais, Lokman Adam, Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, and Saari Sungib.

On April 10, 2002, the six ISA detainees observed the one-year anniversary of their detention by beginning a hunger strike to protest their detention. The strike was suspended on April 21, 2002. The detainees are allowed weekly family visits.

In addition to the ISA detentions, the Mahathir government has suppressed peaceful political opposition by restricting media and academic freedoms.

Throughout 2001, Malaysia’s ruling National Front coalition, led by Prime Minister Mahathir, sought to broaden already tight controls on the press through what the US-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists called “coercion, ownership changes, verbal bullying, and backroom personnel moves.” The Printing Presses and Publications Act presently requires all publications to obtain an annual press license to operate, which can be withdrawn without judicial review. A special office in the Home Affairs Ministry censors all foreign publications and has repeatedly delayed publications deemed critical of the government. For example, in March 2001, censors delayed release of both Far Eastern Economic Review and Asiaweek editions chronicling the growing opposition to Mahathir and signs of political unrest.

The government asserts control through its ownership of virtually all major media, either through the ruling National Front parties or Mahathir’s allies. In May, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a senior partner in the ruling National Front coalition, bought out and dismissed the senior editorial staff of the two major Chinese-language dailies, Nanyang Press and Nanyang Siang Pau, effectively bringing the nation’s most independent papers under government control. The takeover left only one independent Chinese daily, Sin Chew Jit Po.

The Internet, which the government had pledged to spare from censorship, has also begun to come under government pressure. The government stepped up pressure on the online news daily Malaysiakini.com after it was alleged that the site had received start-up funding from a foundation controlled by U.S. businessman George Soros, whom Mahathir has branded an enemy of his country’s financial system and responsible for the 1997 financial crisis. Although Malaysiakini denied the report, Mahathir told the nation that “loyal Malaysians” should stop reading Malaysiakini and barred Malaysiakini reporters from attending government press conferences on the grounds that “their credibility is doubtful.” On May 23, the deputy home affairs minister told parliament that the government was monitoring “every article” published by malaysiakini.com to ensure that its writings did not upset public order. Throughout the year, other government officials threatened that the site would be prosecuted if its reporting “endangered national security.” In May 2001, the prime minister’s office announced that laws were being prepared to require online journalists to observe the same severe restrictions that impede the rest of the media.

Civil servants are required to take an oath of loyalty to king, country and government. Academics and undergraduate students are also now required to take the pledge. The pledge, Akujanji (I Pledge), is an oath of good conduct and requires signatories to heed all existing and future government directives and orders. An explanatory note in a circular on the pledge reads: “An officer who goes against or criticizes a government policy will undermine the integrity and stability of the civil service as a whole.”

The pledge is clearly intended to contain political activity among civil servants, academics and students. In October 2001, sixty-one university lecturers alleged to be engaged in anti-government activities were warned, transferred or fired. Civil servants are reportedly divided over the government’s September 1998 arrest of former Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim, which sparked the reform movement. Last year, soon after Anwar’s arrest, 10 reform activists and two student activists were detained under the ISA. The government has alleged that university student associations are controlled by the PAS. Mahathir has publicly admitted that the aim of the pledge is to check “poisoning of the minds” of students so they “stick to the original purpose of entering universities to gain knowledge and not to indulge in anti-government activities.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday September 14, 2008

Punish not the messenger

On The Beat
By WONG CHUN WAI

We can all tell when there is a miscarriage of justice.

THE arrest of Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng will go down in history as the shortest detention under the Internal Security Act, which allows for custody without trial for an indefinite period.

Tan was released yesterday following a 24-hour detention, which saw her being picked up at her Bukit Mertajam home and told that she would be taken to Bukit Aman in Kuala Lumpur. She was informed of her release midway through the journey.

The arrest will also go down in Malaysian history as the most controversial, if not the most ridiculous.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has since clarified that Tan’s detention order did not come from him but from the police. He also said Tan was taken into custody because her life was threatened and that the police wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Tan is not the first journalist to be arrested under the ISA; the late Tan Sri Samad Ismail is the most famous ISA detainee but he was arrested for alleged communist activities.

Years later, it was acknowledged that he was held on trumped-up charges between 1976 and 1981. Since then, no reporter has ever been arrested under the ISA, not even during Operasi Lallang in 1987.

Among older Malaysians, the perception is that the ISA is used against the communists and, in recent years, members of Islamic terror groups and those who made fake passports and identity cards.

Defiant politician

Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin is not regarded as a journalist in the true sense – he is more of a writer and, certainly, a political player. As a critical writer, he makes no bones of his plans to bring down the Government and openly speaks at ceramahs for the Opposition.

He is facing various charges, including criminal defamation, and the latest ISA arrest is RPK’s second.

But the same cannot be said about Tan, who has worked as a reporter for the past nine years since graduating from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Her crime, if there is one, was to report the racist remarks made by Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, who has refused to apologise for saying that the Chinese are “squatters” in this country.

Despite being suspended from Umno for three years he has remained defiant, believing he has become a hero who dared to champion the cause of his race.

To many Malaysians, his punishment is merely a slap on the wrist, as they feel he should have been be charged under the Sedition Act.

The action should have ended the controversy that strained race relations and the ties among Barisan Nasional component parties but the arrest of Tan has unwittingly rekindled the issue.

There is a sense of injustice and hurt among people that the perpetrator has been let off scot-free while the messenger has been penalised. It’s bad enough that her newspaper has been issued a show-cause letter but she also ended up being detained under the ISA, albeit briefly.

The sledgehammer treatment must have come as a shock for her, as it did to the press fraternity and rational-thinking Malaysians.

Tan may have been released but the damage is already done. To put it bluntly, the arrest was outrageous and went against the grain of natural justice.

The Barisan Nasional government, which is trying to revive its popularity after the March 8 elections, has lost more goodwill and, more importantly, votes.

In the eyes of the world, we are becoming more like a political basket case each day as old politicians attempt to bring back their outdated tricks, believing that the attempts to bring reforms and broaden democratic space can end.

A new world

They want to see the press shackled, preferring to read only about themselves, forgetting that the world has changed. A New Malaysia has emerged, don’t they realise this?

You can keep the bad press out of the printed media but not on the Internet, and a credible media is certainly necessary in a democracy.

As political undercurrents become stronger in Umno with attempts to get the Prime Minister to quit before the two-year period becoming more open, the innocents are in danger of finding themselves caught in the crossfire.

Leave the journalists, who are merely doing their work, out of politics. If Tan and Sin Chew Daily have misreported Ahmad’s remarks, he should have demanded a correction the next day instead of letting it drag on for 10 days.

It was irresponsible on his part to let the controversy continue. Worse still, he made more racist remarks, which are sufficient to get him charged under the Sedition Act or even to be detained under the ISA.

But the ISA is a draconian and archaic law. It shouldn’t be used even against Ahmad, as this deprives him of the right to defend himself in open courts.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to defame others or to create chaos but, certainly, we can all tell when there is a miscarriage of justice.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

 

 

We can all tell when there is a miscarriage of justice.

THE arrest of Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng will go down in history as the shortest detention under the Internal Security Act, which allows for custody without trial for an indefinite period.

Tan was released yesterday following a 24-hour detention, which saw her being picked up at her Bukit Mertajam home and told that she would be taken to Bukit Aman in Kuala Lumpur. She was informed of her release midway through the journey.

The arrest will also go down in Malaysian history as the most controversial, if not the most ridiculous.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has since clarified that Tan’s detention order did not come from him but from the police. He also said Tan was taken into custody because her life was threatened and that the police wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Tan is not the first journalist to be arrested under the ISA; the late Tan Sri Samad Ismail is the most famous ISA detainee but he was arrested for alleged communist activities.

Years later, it was acknowledged that he was held on trumped-up charges between 1976 and 1981. Since then, no reporter has ever been arrested under the ISA, not even during Operasi Lallang in 1987.

Among older Malaysians, the perception is that the ISA is used against the communists and, in recent years, members of Islamic terror groups and those who made fake passports and identity cards.

Defiant politician

Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin is not regarded as a journalist in the true sense – he is more of a writer and, certainly, a political player. As a critical writer, he makes no bones of his plans to bring down the Government and openly speaks at ceramahs for the Opposition.

He is facing various charges, including criminal defamation, and the latest ISA arrest is RPK’s second.

But the same cannot be said about Tan, who has worked as a reporter for the past nine years since graduating from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Her crime, if there is one, was to report the racist remarks made by Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, who has refused to apologise for saying that the Chinese are “squatters” in this country.

Despite being suspended from Umno for three years he has remained defiant, believing he has become a hero who dared to champion the cause of his race.

To many Malaysians, his punishment is merely a slap on the wrist, as they feel he should have been be charged under the Sedition Act.

The action should have ended the controversy that strained race relations and the ties among Barisan Nasional component parties but the arrest of Tan has unwittingly rekindled the issue.

There is a sense of injustice and hurt among people that the perpetrator has been let off scot-free while the messenger has been penalised. It’s bad enough that her newspaper has been issued a show-cause letter but she also ended up being detained under the ISA, albeit briefly.

The sledgehammer treatment must have come as a shock for her, as it did to the press fraternity and rational-thinking Malaysians.

Tan may have been released but the damage is already done. To put it bluntly, the arrest was outrageous and went against the grain of natural justice.

The Barisan Nasional government, which is trying to revive its popularity after the March 8 elections, has lost more goodwill and, more importantly, votes.

In the eyes of the world, we are becoming more like a political basket case each day as old politicians attempt to bring back their outdated tricks, believing that the attempts to bring reforms and broaden democratic space can end.

A new world

They want to see the press shackled, preferring to read only about themselves, forgetting that the world has changed. A New Malaysia has emerged, don’t they realise this?

You can keep the bad press out of the printed media but not on the Internet, and a credible media is certainly necessary in a democracy.

As political undercurrents become stronger in Umno with attempts to get the Prime Minister to quit before the two-year period becoming more open, the innocents are in danger of finding themselves caught in the crossfire.

Leave the journalists, who are merely doing their work, out of politics. If Tan and Sin Chew Daily have misreported Ahmad’s remarks, he should have demanded a correction the next day instead of letting it drag on for 10 days.

It was irresponsible on his part to let the controversy continue. Worse still, he made more racist remarks, which are sufficient to get him charged under the Sedition Act or even to be detained under the ISA.

But the ISA is a draconian and archaic law. It shouldn’t be used even against Ahmad, as this deprives him of the right to defend himself in open courts.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to defame others or to create chaos but, certainly, we can all tell when there is a miscarriage of justice.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices issued on March 4, 2002, was highly critical of Malaysia’s continued use of the ISA and noted that last year, “police increased their use of the ISA to arrest and detain many persons, including members of the political opposition, without charge or trial….In the latter half of the year, the Government stepped up its pro-ISA rhetoric.”
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed has vigorously defended the use of the ISA, saying it has been useful in fighting insurgent groups threatening national security. In November 2000, the ruling coalition suffered a by-election defeat in Mahathir’s home district in Kedah state and the government faced increasingly vocal opposition protests. Not for the first time, it used the ISA against its political opponents. Among those targeted under the ISA were minority Shi’a Muslims, supporters of jailed former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and youth leaders in the opposition Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS, Partai Islam Se-Malaysia), although individuals linked to specific violent acts were also among those detained.
The Act provides for arbitrary arrest and detention without trial for an indefinite period based on mere suspicion that one “may be likely” to commit an act deemed dangerous to national security. A detainee is, therefore, presumed guilty without trial. It further allows a detainee to be held under solitary confinement for 60 days without legal counsel.

When the Act was first adopted, it did allow for judicial review, but since then, the ISA has been amended over 20 times, and this provision has been removed. Absolute power is given to the Minister of Home Affairs to arbitrarily detain anyone, without reference to the courts.

In addition to provisions for arrest, the ISA allows for restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and expression, freedom of movement, residence and employment. It also allows for the closing of schools and educational institutions if they are used as a meeting place for an unlawful organization or for any other reason are deemed detrimental to the interests of Malaysia or the public.

Over the years, the Malaysian government has consistently used the Act for its own political purposes to detain thousands of citizens, including political opposition leaders, academicians, trade unionists, religious, social, environmental, and women’s rights activists. The ISA was used to arrest political opponents of Mahathir in a major crackdown in 1987-88, as well as politicians in Sabah, east Malaysia, in 1990, whose party was considered a major rival to the ruling party, UMNO. In November 1997, ten people were arrested under the ISA for allegedly spreading Shiite teachings deemed detrimental to national security; Muslims in Malaysia are Sunnis. The ISA was used in 1998 to arrest Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and six of his political supporters. Anwar was the primary leader of opposition to Mahathir, and is currently serving a 15-year sentence following convictions in 1999 and 2000 in politically motivated trials for sodomy and corruption and abuse of power.

Former ISA detainees have testified to being subjected to severe physical and psychological torture, including allegations of physical assault, forced nudity, sleep deprivation, around-the-clock interrogation, death threats, threats of bodily harm to family members, including threats of rape and bodily harm to their children. Detainees are often kept in solitary confinement in tiny, dark cells. Prolonged torture and deprivation have led to some to sign state-manufactured “confessions” under severe duress. During the first trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, police admitted to the courts that the process of ‘extracting confessions’ under duress was standard practice. Currently, there are 105 ISA detainees being held in Kamunting prison camp.

In April 2001, prior to a planned a demonstration marking the second anniversary of the sentencing of prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysian police detained nine opposition activists and a human rights defender under the ISA:

  • Chua Tian Chiang, Vice President, Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKN – National Justice
  • Party, known as Keadilan);
  • Mohd Ezam Mohd Noor, National Youth Chief, PKN;
  • Haji Saari Sungip, PKN activist;
  • Hishamuddin Rais, media columnist and social activist;
  • Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Director of Free Anwar Campaign;
  • N. Gobala Krishnan, Secretary General, PKN Youth;
  • Abdul Ghani Harun, PKN Youth Central Committee member;
  • Dr Badrul Amin Baharom, PKN Youth leader;
  • Lokman Nor Adam, Executive Secretary, PKN Youth Wing;
  • Badaruddin Ismail, human rights defender.

Five of the activists belonged to the opposition PKN party, headed by Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah. The detainees were apparently also planning to submit a memorandum to the Malaysian Commission on Human Rights regarding Anwar’s trial. Dr Badrul Amin Baharom and Lokman Nor Adam, leading members of the PKN, were arrested on April 20, 2001. Dr. Badrul Amin Baharom was released on November 2, but tight restrictions were placed on his movements and he was prohibited from speaking publicly. He broke the restrictions and was rearrested on January 31, 2002. On 26 April 26, 2001 Malaysian police arrested human rights defender Badaruddin Ismail, who is a member of the secretariat of a leading human rights organization, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram, Voice of the Malaysian People). He had been assisting families of detainees and monitoring the National Human Rights Commission enquiry into police brutality. No reason for his arrest has been given.

On May 30, in an unusual and courageous ruling, Judge Hishamuddin Yunus ordered the release of two ISA detainees on a writ of habeas corpus (an order that a prisoner to be brought before a court to determine whether his detention is lawful), and suggested that the parliament should review and either scrap or amend the ISA to reduce its potential for abuse.

In July 2001, the authorities detained two student activists, Khairul Anuar Ahmad Zainuddin and Mohamad Fuad Mohamad Ikhwan, under the ISA, the former for twenty-three days and the latter for ten days. Also in July, the government banned all political rallies stating that they would undermine the country’s security. When the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), an opposition party making inroads since the 1999 general election, subsequently planned a series of meetings to protest the policy, police refused to grant permits and dispersed those who attempted to attend.

On August 2-4, police detained another ten people under the ISA, all of whom were affiliated with or supporters of PAS, including four prominent youth leaders. The authorities said the ten belonged to a group (known by the initials KMM) that planned to overthrow the government, sometimes labeling the group the Malaysian Militant Group and sometimes the Malaysian Mujahedin Group.

One of those detained, Nik Adli Nik Aziz, was the son of a leading PAS official. The authorities alleged he had received military training in Afghanistan and had learned bomb making from Muslim rebels in the Philippines, but he denied this and PAS leaders emphasized that they used only peaceful, democratic means in their struggle against the ruling coalition. As of May, most of them were still detained under two-year detention orders.

The police have claimed that the opposition PKN party activists were planning violent street demonstrations to overthrow the government although no evidence supporting this accusation has ever been presented before the courts. Many non-governmental organizations believe the real reason for the arrests is to suppress legitimate peaceful dissent against the arrest and sentencing of Anwar Ibrahim. The Malaysian Human Rights Commission has repeatedly said that detention without trial under the Internal Security Act violates fundamental human rights, and if the detainees were not charged and tried in an open court they should be immediately released.

Following their initial detention, the families of five of the detainees–Mohammad Ezam Mohd Noor, Haji Saari Sungip, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Dr Badrul Amin Baharom and Lokman Nor Adam–expressed concern that while the detainees did not show signs of physical assault, they were unwilling to speak of their interrogation, and returned repeatedly to the subject of the safety of their families. To date, two of the detainees have been freed pending their Federal Court case (Gobala Krishnan Abdul Ghani Harun) and six (the “ISA Six”) remain under two-year detention order in Kamunting Detention Center in Northern Perak state: Badrul Amin, Chua Tian Chang, Hishamuddin Rais, Lokman Adam, Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, and Saari Sungib.

On April 10, 2002, the six ISA detainees observed the one-year anniversary of their detention by beginning a hunger strike to protest their detention. The strike was suspended on April 21, 2002. The detainees are allowed weekly family visits.

In addition to the ISA detentions, the Mahathir government has suppressed peaceful political opposition by restricting media and academic freedoms.

Throughout 2001, Malaysia’s ruling National Front coalition, led by Prime Minister Mahathir, sought to broaden already tight controls on the press through what the US-based Committee for the Protection of Journalists called “coercion, ownership changes, verbal bullying, and backroom personnel moves.” The Printing Presses and Publications Act presently requires all publications to obtain an annual press license to operate, which can be withdrawn without judicial review. A special office in the Home Affairs Ministry censors all foreign publications and has repeatedly delayed publications deemed critical of the government. For example, in March 2001, censors delayed release of both Far Eastern Economic Review and Asiaweek editions chronicling the growing opposition to Mahathir and signs of political unrest.

The government asserts control through its ownership of virtually all major media, either through the ruling National Front parties or Mahathir’s allies. In May, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), a senior partner in the ruling National Front coalition, bought out and dismissed the senior editorial staff of the two major Chinese-language dailies, Nanyang Press and Nanyang Siang Pau, effectively bringing the nation’s most independent papers under government control. The takeover left only one independent Chinese daily, Sin Chew Jit Po.

The Internet, which the government had pledged to spare from censorship, has also begun to come under government pressure. The government stepped up pressure on the online news daily Malaysiakini.com after it was alleged that the site had received start-up funding from a foundation controlled by U.S. businessman George Soros, whom Mahathir has branded an enemy of his country’s financial system and responsible for the 1997 financial crisis. Although Malaysiakini denied the report, Mahathir told the nation that “loyal Malaysians” should stop reading Malaysiakini and barred Malaysiakini reporters from attending government press conferences on the grounds that “their credibility is doubtful.” On May 23, the deputy home affairs minister told parliament that the government was monitoring “every article” published by malaysiakini.com to ensure that its writings did not upset public order. Throughout the year, other government officials threatened that the site would be prosecuted if its reporting “endangered national security.” In May 2001, the prime minister’s office announced that laws were being prepared to require online journalists to observe the same severe restrictions that impede the rest of the media.

Civil servants are required to take an oath of loyalty to king, country and government. Academics and undergraduate students are also now required to take the pledge. The pledge, Akujanji (I Pledge), is an oath of good conduct and requires signatories to heed all existing and future government directives and orders. An explanatory note in a circular on the pledge reads: “An officer who goes against or criticizes a government policy will undermine the integrity and stability of the civil service as a whole.”

The pledge is clearly intended to contain political activity among civil servants, academics and students. In October 2001, sixty-one university lecturers alleged to be engaged in anti-government activities were warned, transferred or fired. Civil servants are reportedly divided over the government’s September 1998 arrest of former Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim, which sparked the reform movement. Last year, soon after Anwar’s arrest, 10 reform activists and two student activists were detained under the ISA. The government has alleged that university student associations are controlled by the PAS. Mahathir has publicly admitted that the aim of the pledge is to check “poisoning of the minds” of students so they “stick to the original purpose of entering universities to gain knowledge and not to indulge in anti-government activities.”

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Sunday September 14, 2008

Punish not the messenger

On The Beat
By WONG CHUN WAI

We can all tell when there is a miscarriage of justice.

THE arrest of Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng will go down in history as the shortest detention under the Internal Security Act, which allows for custody without trial for an indefinite period.

Tan was released yesterday following a 24-hour detention, which saw her being picked up at her Bukit Mertajam home and told that she would be taken to Bukit Aman in Kuala Lumpur. She was informed of her release midway through the journey.

The arrest will also go down in Malaysian history as the most controversial, if not the most ridiculous.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has since clarified that Tan’s detention order did not come from him but from the police. He also said Tan was taken into custody because her life was threatened and that the police wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Tan is not the first journalist to be arrested under the ISA; the late Tan Sri Samad Ismail is the most famous ISA detainee but he was arrested for alleged communist activities.

Years later, it was acknowledged that he was held on trumped-up charges between 1976 and 1981. Since then, no reporter has ever been arrested under the ISA, not even during Operasi Lallang in 1987.

Among older Malaysians, the perception is that the ISA is used against the communists and, in recent years, members of Islamic terror groups and those who made fake passports and identity cards.

Defiant politician

Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin is not regarded as a journalist in the true sense – he is more of a writer and, certainly, a political player. As a critical writer, he makes no bones of his plans to bring down the Government and openly speaks at ceramahs for the Opposition.

He is facing various charges, including criminal defamation, and the latest ISA arrest is RPK’s second.

But the same cannot be said about Tan, who has worked as a reporter for the past nine years since graduating from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Her crime, if there is one, was to report the racist remarks made by Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, who has refused to apologise for saying that the Chinese are “squatters” in this country.

Despite being suspended from Umno for three years he has remained defiant, believing he has become a hero who dared to champion the cause of his race.

To many Malaysians, his punishment is merely a slap on the wrist, as they feel he should have been be charged under the Sedition Act.

The action should have ended the controversy that strained race relations and the ties among Barisan Nasional component parties but the arrest of Tan has unwittingly rekindled the issue.

There is a sense of injustice and hurt among people that the perpetrator has been let off scot-free while the messenger has been penalised. It’s bad enough that her newspaper has been issued a show-cause letter but she also ended up being detained under the ISA, albeit briefly.

The sledgehammer treatment must have come as a shock for her, as it did to the press fraternity and rational-thinking Malaysians.

Tan may have been released but the damage is already done. To put it bluntly, the arrest was outrageous and went against the grain of natural justice.

The Barisan Nasional government, which is trying to revive its popularity after the March 8 elections, has lost more goodwill and, more importantly, votes.

In the eyes of the world, we are becoming more like a political basket case each day as old politicians attempt to bring back their outdated tricks, believing that the attempts to bring reforms and broaden democratic space can end.

A new world

They want to see the press shackled, preferring to read only about themselves, forgetting that the world has changed. A New Malaysia has emerged, don’t they realise this?

You can keep the bad press out of the printed media but not on the Internet, and a credible media is certainly necessary in a democracy.

As political undercurrents become stronger in Umno with attempts to get the Prime Minister to quit before the two-year period becoming more open, the innocents are in danger of finding themselves caught in the crossfire.

Leave the journalists, who are merely doing their work, out of politics. If Tan and Sin Chew Daily have misreported Ahmad’s remarks, he should have demanded a correction the next day instead of letting it drag on for 10 days.

It was irresponsible on his part to let the controversy continue. Worse still, he made more racist remarks, which are sufficient to get him charged under the Sedition Act or even to be detained under the ISA.

But the ISA is a draconian and archaic law. It shouldn’t be used even against Ahmad, as this deprives him of the right to defend himself in open courts.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to defame others or to create chaos but, certainly, we can all tell when there is a miscarriage of justice.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

 

 

We can all tell when there is a miscarriage of justice.

THE arrest of Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng will go down in history as the shortest detention under the Internal Security Act, which allows for custody without trial for an indefinite period.

Tan was released yesterday following a 24-hour detention, which saw her being picked up at her Bukit Mertajam home and told that she would be taken to Bukit Aman in Kuala Lumpur. She was informed of her release midway through the journey.

The arrest will also go down in Malaysian history as the most controversial, if not the most ridiculous.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has since clarified that Tan’s detention order did not come from him but from the police. He also said Tan was taken into custody because her life was threatened and that the police wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Tan is not the first journalist to be arrested under the ISA; the late Tan Sri Samad Ismail is the most famous ISA detainee but he was arrested for alleged communist activities.

Years later, it was acknowledged that he was held on trumped-up charges between 1976 and 1981. Since then, no reporter has ever been arrested under the ISA, not even during Operasi Lallang in 1987.

Among older Malaysians, the perception is that the ISA is used against the communists and, in recent years, members of Islamic terror groups and those who made fake passports and identity cards.

Defiant politician

Malaysia Today website editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin is not regarded as a journalist in the true sense – he is more of a writer and, certainly, a political player. As a critical writer, he makes no bones of his plans to bring down the Government and openly speaks at ceramahs for the Opposition.

He is facing various charges, including criminal defamation, and the latest ISA arrest is RPK’s second.

But the same cannot be said about Tan, who has worked as a reporter for the past nine years since graduating from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Her crime, if there is one, was to report the racist remarks made by Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, who has refused to apologise for saying that the Chinese are “squatters” in this country.

Despite being suspended from Umno for three years he has remained defiant, believing he has become a hero who dared to champion the cause of his race.

To many Malaysians, his punishment is merely a slap on the wrist, as they feel he should have been be charged under the Sedition Act.

The action should have ended the controversy that strained race relations and the ties among Barisan Nasional component parties but the arrest of Tan has unwittingly rekindled the issue.

There is a sense of injustice and hurt among people that the perpetrator has been let off scot-free while the messenger has been penalised. It’s bad enough that her newspaper has been issued a show-cause letter but she also ended up being detained under the ISA, albeit briefly.

The sledgehammer treatment must have come as a shock for her, as it did to the press fraternity and rational-thinking Malaysians.

Tan may have been released but the damage is already done. To put it bluntly, the arrest was outrageous and went against the grain of natural justice.

The Barisan Nasional government, which is trying to revive its popularity after the March 8 elections, has lost more goodwill and, more importantly, votes.

In the eyes of the world, we are becoming more like a political basket case each day as old politicians attempt to bring back their outdated tricks, believing that the attempts to bring reforms and broaden democratic space can end.

A new world

They want to see the press shackled, preferring to read only about themselves, forgetting that the world has changed. A New Malaysia has emerged, don’t they realise this?

You can keep the bad press out of the printed media but not on the Internet, and a credible media is certainly necessary in a democracy.

As political undercurrents become stronger in Umno with attempts to get the Prime Minister to quit before the two-year period becoming more open, the innocents are in danger of finding themselves caught in the crossfire.

Leave the journalists, who are merely doing their work, out of politics. If Tan and Sin Chew Daily have misreported Ahmad’s remarks, he should have demanded a correction the next day instead of letting it drag on for 10 days.

It was irresponsible on his part to let the controversy continue. Worse still, he made more racist remarks, which are sufficient to get him charged under the Sedition Act or even to be detained under the ISA.

But the ISA is a draconian and archaic law. It shouldn’t be used even against Ahmad, as this deprives him of the right to defend himself in open courts.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to defame others or to create chaos but, certainly, we can all tell when there is a miscarriage of justice.

**************************************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Response to "ABOLISH THE ISA"

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FREE ALL ISA DETAINEES "The land belongs to the countless numbers of people who are dead, the few who are living and the multitude of those yet to be born". child2
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