This article was written by someone as a response to Tun Dr Mahathir's article on ISA on Che Det's blog.
ISA : Necessary Preventive Powers that any self-respecting Government should have.
by Ceylonese Lawyer
The nations that tout themselves with the most advanced of civilizations and who claim to have achieved the greatest degree of civility seem to be unable to let go of what they would regard as - the ultimate weapon- the nuclear bomb. The cold war is over. There is no enemy with missiles pointed at their civilian centers. Yet not a single leader in Western Europe or North America is prepared to say - that the time has come to destroy these weapons which may harm persons who have not been found guilty on a beyond reasonable doubt standard.
Perhaps they feel that the security of their people necessitates the retention of such an array of weaponry, despite the fact that its need has diminished and that its dangers have grown.
In our context, the danger of this nation being undermined by acts of instigation is real. These acts can, when viewed singularly be regarded as innocent enough- standing on a cow's head so what. But a combination of these acts coupled with the actions and reactions that follow will have as their probable consequence the fanning of racial and religious sensitivities. The momentum that such a spiral could gather would be so great and the results would be so horrifying that one can in hindsight even wonder how did something seemingly so innocent have caused such harm, pain and destruction. Who would have thought that a single assassination would plunge the world into World War I, who would have thought that a group of angry young men would force their way into government and pave the way to World War II as Nazis and facists, who would have thought that one of the two nations formed by a religous community - Pakistan would be plunged into an ever deepening darkness, who would have thought that the innocent socialist philosophies of a simple man would lead a nation to the killing fields.
Likewise if we reflect on May 13th or any other such event, it is difficult to pin point a cause, which is so definitive in character and purpose that it may be regarded as a crime. Yet the presence of such a combination of harmful ingredients necessitates action by any self-respecting government. ISA gives the government that power. This is not a power that can be relegated to a Court. A Court can act when there are criminal charges that may be proven on a prima facie basis and then on a beyond reasonable doubt standard. But when a nation is confronted with a latent threat, the power and the responsibility falls to its democratically elected government to exercise the ultimate power -ISA. That government then stands accountable to Parliament. But as a Government duly elected it has a solemn to prevent the untold harm that may otherwise unfold. As a democratic nation the government will be judged by its actions its honesty and its ability to hold its own in the court of public opinion.
As fate would have it, when the power of ISA is exercised and the threat is extinguished people can with hindsight contend cynically that the power was abused or that the harm was contrived and was never real. This is the burden of duty that a government will have to shoulder. We have to face the fact that when faced with a latent threat to security, the only way to prove to the world that the threat exists is to allow it to fester, to grow and to manifest itself. But can we chance that. What may seem to be an innocent enough caricature, sarcasm of rulers and religion can have untold consequences.
As a citizen, I am mindful of the peace that we enjoy and which we cherish and I would like my government to have at its disposal an instrument that will enable it to intervene and halt a threat to the peace. I would want my government to be able to do so without having to convince some judge that the threat is real. I voted for my government not the judiciary. When faced with such a threat it is my government I turn to. Look around us - can we not see how hard it is to build a peace and how easy it is to tear it asunder. There a nations in this world today that are not even the shadow of their former selves, there are nations who have become ungovernable and we now have a new jargon - "failed states". I suppose at that point there would be evidence beyond reasonable doubt that instigation had been a foot.
I don't know about the others - but I don't want my government to wait until then to realize that something is wrong.