ISA detention of 13: Najib lied to the rakyat on reforms

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I refer to the statement by Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein on November 19 justifying the recent ISA detentions of 13 persons in Sabah, of whom 7 are Malaysian citizens.

The Minister claims that there are ” facts and background circumstances” justifying these detentions and that the detainees are “dangerous individuals.” His justifications are completely unacceptable and are in blatant breach of the Prime Minister’s solemn promise to the rakyat that the current oppressive system will be reformed. If the Minister has such cogent evidence of the wrongdoing of these persons, why not charge them in open court?

These detentions prove the utter dishonesty of the Prime Minister when he made his pledge of reform on the 16th of September this year. It is clear that the announcerment of the reforms was another cheap trick to win votes in the coming General election and that Najib had no intention of returning to the the rakyat the fundamental freedoms promised under the Federal Constitution.

In short, Najib had perpertrated a massive, televised fraud upon the nation when he made his reform pledge on Malaysia Day this year.

In an attempt to justify detention without trial, Hishamuddin also said that other countries such as the US have such preventive laws to deal with terrorism. This is a disgraceful, lying attempt by Hishamuddin to mislead the rakyat.

In contrast to Malaysia, the Patriot Act does not allow US citizens to be detained without trial; only non-US citizens can be detained, and only up to 7 days. UK, Australia and Canada anti-terrorism provisions are extremely limited. In Australia and the UK detention is allowed up to 14 days detention, whereas Canada allowed preventive detention only for 72 hours.

Even these limited preventive laws have come under severe criticism in the respective countries.The trend in the West is to progressively reduce preventive detention powers. There has been no preventive detention law in Canada since 2007, when the Canadian parliament declined to renew it.

In the UK, the previous detention limit of 28 days was reduced to 14 days earlier this year. Contrary to Hishamudin’s attempt to mislead the rakyat, there are no ISA-like anti-terrorist laws existing in advanced Western countries. We call upon Prime Minister Najib and the BN government to:

i) immediately release the 13 detainees;

ii) undertake not to carry out any more ISA detentions;

iii) immediately repeal the ISA and all other preventive detention laws; and

iv) retract their plans to replace the ISA with two new preventive detention laws.

N Surendran
Vice President Parti Keadilan Rakyat