Monday, December 29, 2008

ISA Stays Despite Strong Protests

Despite deafening calls to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA), there was no indication at all in 2008 that it will be abolished or replaced with a new law.

The detention of several individuals under the ISA sparked debate on the act, with many claiming it restricted freedom as enshrined in the federal constitution and was misused for political interest.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has also proposed that the ISA be replaced with an anti-terrorism law, stressing on the rights of detainees like appointing lawyers and the right to judicial review.

Calls to abolish the ISA gained momentum after several Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders were detained on Dec 13, last year for demonstrating in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25 and making slanderous statements against the government.

The Hindraf leaders include lawyer M. Manoharan, state assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah, lawyer P. Uthayakumar, V. Ganabatirau, R. Kenghadharan and former bank officer K. Vasantha Kumar.

Efforts to get them released from Kamunting Camp, Taiping, proved futile when their habeas corpus (writ) application was rejected three times by the Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur high courts.

Their appeals have yet to be heard by the Federal Court.

Matters came to a head when Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Seputeh Member of Parliament Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng were detained under the ISA on Sept 12.

Raja Petra, who is also a blogger, was detained for an article with elements deemed insulting to Islam that could spark anger and affect the peace.

Kok, who was detained under section 73 (1) of ISA for sparking racial and religious conflict over the controversial mosque azan issue was released a week later.

Tan was detained by police in Penang for her report on a speech by Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail who had allegedly said "the Chinese are passengers." She was released, a week later.

Their detentions, particularly Tan's, were strongly criticised by various quarters prompting Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to say she was detained to "protect her from death threats".

The Bar Council Malaysia held an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) and passed six resolutions, asking the government to abolish the ISA and other laws allowing detention without trial.
Read the whole report HERE.

***** It looks like the ISA is here to stay until the day the people decide to abolish Umno once and for all.

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