In step with the rakyat
By Zainah Anwar
5 Oct 2008 – Sunday Star

Will major parties grappling with a changing political climate have the clear-mindedness to reform their parties or will they remain stuck in a context whose sell-by date has long expired?

I was once asked by a magazine interviewer what I would do if I were Prime Minister for one day. My instantaneous reply was “Repeal the ISA.”

That such a law remains on our statute books, and continues to be abused to this day is evidence that when those in authority are given the right to detain citizens without trial, the temptation to abuse this law against your political enemies is too hard to resist.

It also breeds laziness of mind as it is so much easier to incarcerate someone with a stroke of the pen rather than carry out pain­stak­ing investigation and research to build up a case beyond reasonable doubt and prove it successfully in a court of law.

But what struck me about this recent round of ISA arrest is the widespread public outrage on its use from the most unlikely of critics.

Change is for real in this country. That Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng was released within 24 hours of her detention and MP Teresa Kok within a week showed that the Government’s use of the ISA is no longer tenable post-March 8.

In the past, those opposed to the ISA represented discordant voices in society. But this time, it is those who publicly spoke out in unequivocal support of the ISA and the detentions who appear discordant to the general mood of public outrage at the injustice done.

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