Followers

Monday, September 15, 2008

Righteous Laws? - ISA

The Internal Security Act or fondly referred to as the ISA was a piece of legislation primarily put into place to face communist threats. The late Sir Hugh Hickling was a parliamentary draughtsman and legal advisor to authorities in 1960 in what was then Malaya when the ISA came into effect. He had previously noted that the law is draconian and had been abused to quell political dissent, social activism and legitimate democratic expression by concerned citizens. We have heard this being echoed for years. (Visit http://nightsoveregypt.wordpress.com/2007/02/28/remembering-reginald-hugh-hickling-1920-2007/)

What is the ISA? The preamble to the Act says: “An Act to provide for the internal security of Malaysia, preventive detention, the prevention of subversion, the suppression of organized violence against persons and property in specified areas of Malaysia, and for matters incidental thereto”. You can see that the net is open to wide interpretation.

What is more worrisome is that according to section 8B of the Act, the Judge cannot review the substantive decisions of the Minister in making the order. The courts can only look at whether the procedural requirements have been followed.

One of the major worry with preventive detention laws is the welfare of the detainee while under detention. You cannot ascertain their welfare but for the assurances given by the detaining authority. I always am concerned when I have depend on assurances as I would rather have the relevant law in place which will allow me to ascertain it for my self.

What about visitation rights? Ordinarily, you cannot be certain if you can visit the detainee within 14 days of arrest or even within 60 days of arrest.

Further, the detainee could be detained for 2 years at a time. And hence, indefinitely.

To say that a preventive detention law is completely unnecessary may not be accurate in the light of terrorist activities around the world. However, safeguards to prevent abuse by the politicians or the police is necessary. There must be safeguards to ensure personal justice.

Hence, amendments to the law is over due.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ex-Law Minister Zaid: I have failed
By SIM LEOI LEOI and SHAILA KOSHY


PUTRAJAYA: Datul Zaid Ibrahim said he was quitting from the Cabinet because he had “failed.”

He said he constantly met “a brick wall” from his Cabinet colleagues and party members on many of his suggestions for reform.

The former de facto Law Minister, who remains a Senator, also said he did not want problems arising from his proposals to plague Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at a time when the latter had to grapple with party conflict and other challenges.

He had submitted his resignation letter to Abdullah on Monday. The Prime Minister at first did not accept his resignation and asked him to reconsider, but on Tuesday finally confirmed he had accepted Zaid’s resignation.

“Although I thanked the PM for his suggestion that I go on leave instead, I am not tired. I’m just disappointed.

“I pray that the PM will be able to overcome all the problems he is facing, and that he remains as Umno president and Prime Minister to accomplish what he has set out to do.

“I apologise to all Malaysians because of my weaknesses, I have failed,” he said in a 40-minute press conference at his office here on Tuesday.

Zaid was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department after the 12th general election in March as part of Abdullah’s efforts for reform.

“It has not been a mistake to take up the offer,” Zaid said.

Asked why he was giving up when he had bluntly told journalists in May that they should go on fighting for media freedom despite the obstacles of the past 20 years, he said:

“Maybe I’m not as courageous as you are. I agree change does take time but I was looking for some positive development to give me assurance.”

He however maintained Abdullah had been supportive“within his own constraints.”

Asked whether Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim -- if he formed a new government -- would be able to bring reform to the judiciary, Zaid replied: “He hasn’t formed the government. It doesn’t matter whether the Prime Minister is Abdullah, Datuk Seri Najib (Tun Razak), Tengku Razaleigh (Hamzah), (Tan Sri) Muyhiddin (Yassin) or Anwar. I don’t care; I just want to see transformation.”

Describing himself as a “man of deep responsibility”, Zaid lamented that in the six months he had been Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, he had “gone through a lot”, ranging from accusations of not standing up for his own race and religion to being criticised in Parliament.

Naming Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman as one of his critics, Zaid argued that Malays and Malaysians could only benefit from his proposals.

“You can still be a champion for your race and think of the country.”

“But I could not translate what I wanted to do, particularly on issues such as equal rights for everyone as stated in the Constitution. I think I have failed to convince those in authority and positions of power to effect those changes which will allow this Government to move forward.”

In his resignation letter to the Prime Minister, he had enumerated his frustrations in achieving the reforms he had been tasked with. The straw that broke the camel's back was the arrest of three civilians under the Internal Security Act last Friday.

Asked whether the public should give up on Abdullah’s promise for judicial reform since Zaid -- the person specifically tasked with achieving it -- had resigned, he replied:

“I don’t think everything should be pegged to me. I am not a hero. Someone else might be more acceptable.”

Asked whether he would now leave Umno for opposition party PKR, Zaid admitted he had not been “treated well” by Umno and was even suspended once on charges of money politics.

“Many of those who criticised me are from Umno. Sometimes, I feel that I should change, instead of them.

“I don’t know PKR well. It’s too early to say, I have an open mind. But I haven’t made any decision to join PKR or anybody else,” he said, adding that he had not been courted.

Asked whether he had advice for the Government, Zaid said it must start trusting its own people it if were to build “one country, one system.”

“If you can’t bring yourself to that level of trust, you will always worry which policy benefits which group. You can have race-based parties but you don’t have to be racist bigots,” he said on his last day in office.

Bulans

jabar said...

bulans,

thanks. The part is telling: "“If you can’t bring yourself to that level of trust, you will always worry which policy benefits which group."

worry rakyat!

Anonymous said...

jabar,

quote from zaid:

“But I could not translate what I wanted to do, particularly on issues such as equal rights for everyone as stated in the Constitution. I think I have failed to convince those in authority and positions of power to effect those changes which will allow this Government to move forward.”

so under the constitution, every citizen has equal rights. so where did the special privilages comes from? was the NEP enacted after may 13 to temporily assist the melayus so that they can gain some economic ground to be on par with the non bumis?

so after all these years they are still not there?

Bulans

jabar said...

Bulan,

see article 153 of the federal constitution as a starting point.

Anonymous said...

jabar,

where to find this 153 thingy?

bulans

Anonymous said...

Bro,

In my humble opinion it is important to name things properly. The ISA was formulated as an Anti Terrorism Act. It was passed to fight the Communists who were labelled CTs or Communist Terrorists during the Malayan Emergency.

The US and the UK have their own version. Altho the US Act is called the Patriot Act, they are very clearly known as 'anti terrorism' laws. Since the law is clearly anti terrorist hence bloggers, reporters, writers and artists are not arrested under this law in the US.

We need to change the name of the ISA to exactly that 'The Anti Terrorism Act.'

Since some of our Police are not among the most intelligent people in the world, this proper labelling of the Act will help them realise that it is their job to go and catch the 'TERRORISTS', not bloggers, MPs, reporters and such.

They are NOT terrorists.

People who want to turn up or turn down the volumes of their Sanyo or Hitachi loudspeakers can be handled under other laws like public nuisance, disturbing the peace etc.

Anonymous said...

True Christianity - Facts Based On The Four Accepted Gospels

MUST ATTEND - OPEN FOR ALL

A talk by Mr K Jambunathan (74 years old) an ex Pastor of the Anglican Church who was 'ex-communicated' aka kicked out by the Anglican Church.

"Many non Christians are very ill informed about Christianity. It is important and beneficial that they know the facts as per the official bible so that they can answer any point raised by Christians."

Mr. Jambunathan, a well versed Christian who had preached the religion for more than 50 years as a priest will speak on the subject matter. In his talk he shall share with you the facts, his experiences and thoughts on his religion.

This talk is not about 'bashing' any religion at all but merely an analytical presention of facts. After the talk, you are invited to ask questions. It is difficult to find a person who can do a presention of this nature, and it is hoped that you can attend so that you have a better understanding of Christianity or clear any doubts that you may have.

This talk is not about conversion but about facts of Christianity so that you can enrich your knowledge to better handle Christian-Non Christian issues, and advise the same facts to people in your own religion.

Hence, this talk is invaluable and highly recommended.

Details of the talk are as follows:--

Place: GAE Technical Services,
No:2 Jalan SS 13/3E,
Petaling Jaya

(It is on the same side as Sunway Pyramid, heading away from the LDP, turn in after the 'Blue Building For Children')

Time: 2.30 pm

Date: Saturday, 20 September 08

Contacts:Bro PH Chan 012 2038932
Bro TF Chan 019 3194438
Mr Jambu 016 6383684

jabar said...

Bulans,

There is something called MPH or Popular where they sell books. Go and ask for the Federal Constitution - something that all Malaysians should have.

Anonymous said...

oh ini macam, ah so,

bulans