Posts Tagged ‘ISA


Syed Husin: We are thru with ISA

The menace of regression is in the air and Dr Syed Husin Ali is not amused one bit.

As the author of a recent work entitled ‘Malay Rulers: Reform or Regression’, the second term Pakatan Rakyat senator from Selangor is decidedly uneasy about bringing back a law that was a part of the country’s retrogressive past.

The repealed Internal Security Act (ISA), a draconian holdover from the country’s colonial past that was retired from the statue books just over a year ago, is being talked into revival.

This talk makes the flesh of Syed Husin, 77, an ISA detainee for six years – from December 1974 to late 1980 – creep horribly.

“Right now, we could take no more regressive measure than to bring back that abomination,” opined the veteran politician and former Universiti Malaya professor.

Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who began his premiership in 1981 by releasing ISA detainees and dipped it in infamy by incarcerating his deputy under the Act in 1998, has spoken up for its return.

“He forgets just a few years back he said that the ISA arrests in 1987 when he was both the home minister and prime minister were not done of his own volition but on police insistence,” recalled Syed Husin.

“That meant he shirked his responsibility as the minister empowered under the law to determine whether the ISA arrests should be made, thus submitting to what was effectively a police state at that point in time,” recapped Syed Husin, alluding to what he feels is apt to result when people of authoritarian bent are given untrammeled powers that come with laws like the ISA.

Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar has also talked up the need to add detention without trial, which was what the repealed ISA provided for, to the police arsenal in dealing with rising tensions in the country over issues such as the ‘Allah’ controversy.

“He forgets what a High Court judge said about his responsibility for the custodial death of A Kugan and now he wants more power for the police to deal with recalcitrant civil society types,” said Syed Husin.

A manufactured crisis

This member of the Senate rejected the argument that tensions are rising in the country because of the controversy over the Allah issue.

“This is a manufactured crisis to divert the attention of the people from the rising cost of living. The voices of the few protesting the use of this and that word are being played up to seem like things are getting out of control but the crowds that actually turn up for the protests are small,” said Syed Husin.

“People are more concerned with what is happening to their purchasing power,” he added.

“Given firm and rational statements from the powers-that-be and all that manufactured gas would go out of the bags,” quipped Syed Husin.

“But no, it’s not in their interests to stop this thing. They allow matters to build up so that their aim of diverting the people’s attention from more pressing issues is achieved,” he said.

Jan 11, 2014 – Malaysiakini
Syed Husin: We are thru with ISA


Govt tables ISA-like amendments to Crime Prevention Act

by Tarani Palani

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 25): Electronic monitoring device, an introduction of a three-man Prevention of Crime Board whose decision cannot be scrutinised through a judicial review, and a detention period of two years which can be renewed for another two-years – these restrictive measures are part of the amendments to the Crime Prevention Act 1959 (CPA) tabled by the government in Parliament today.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that all bills tabled will be read for the second and third time during this seating, which means the government will seek to pass the CPA amendment bill the end of this session.

The electronic monitoring device will be attached to any person released under the new Section 7(1)(b). The officer in charge shall submit a report to the Public Prosecutor to voice intentions to use the device. Any Session Court judge has the authority to approve this application.

“The person shall comply with all the terms and condition of the electronic monitoring device and shall report to the nearest police station at such time as specified in the form,” reads the amendment bill.

Any person who is found guilty of an offense in relation to the electronic device can be jailed up to three years. Should there be any damage to the device, the person would have to pay for it.

A three-man Crime Prevention Board also has been introduced in the bill. The chairman of the board shall be or have been, or “qualified to be”, a judge of the Federal Court, the court of Appeal or a High Court.

Members of this board will be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and will have to serve for a maximum of two years and can be re-appointed to not more than one more term.

Govt tables ISA-like amendments to Crime Prevention Act
Sep 25, 2013 –


Anti-crime amendments ‘draconian’, like the ISA, DAP says

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — Putrajaya’s amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) 1959 appears to suggest a return to the era of the repealed Internal Security Act (ISA), a controversial law that allowed detention without trial, the DAP said today.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng accused Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of breaking his promise for national reconciliation, saying that “instead, he gave us national retaliation”.

“It seems to be like the ISA,” DAP chairman Karpal Singh told reporters after a hearing at the High Court here today.

“We’re looking into it. Some of the provisions seem very draconian,” added the senior lawyer.

Lim, who was with Karpal at the press conference, accused Najib of trying to “divide the people”.

“When you look at the new PCA, it’s the EO again, all but in name,” said the Penang chief minister.

Lim was referring to the Emergency Ordinance, another security law – which also allows for detention without trial – that had been abolished together with the ISA in 2011.

The ISA is a colonial era security law that critics say was abused by the government to silence dissent.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi tabled a Bill earlier today to amend the PCA to incorporate preventive detention powers in an apparent bid to crack down on the criminal underworld, after a recent string of shootings and violent crime.

A proposed clause in the Bill allows individuals to be detained for up to two years without trial, up from the current 72 days.

At the end of the two-year period, the order can be renewed for a further two years out of necessity to ensure public order, public security or to prevent crime.

Civil liberties lawyer Syahredzan Johan also noted earlier today that the Bill includes an ouster clause that could prevent judicial reviews for detention orders on grounds of merit, allowing instead reviews only on procedural grounds.

Anti-crime amendments ‘draconian’, like the ISA, DAP says
By Boo Su-Lyn
September 25, 2013 – Malay Mail Online


Amendments a most “serious assault on human rights”

These amendments are absolutely scandalous and an antithesis to our democratic and fundamental rights to freedom from arbitrary detention and punishment, due process, rule of law and legal representation.

It goes without saying that the amendments are unconstitutional especially since Malaysia is living in peace time with no threats of subversion, insurrection or civil unrest as envisaged by Article 149 of the Federal Constitution.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has reneged on his promise to “respect human rights and liberties” which he said he would uphold when announcing the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Emergency Ordinance on Malaysia Day two years ago, said human rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL).

LFL’s co-founder and adviser Eric Paulsen noted that Najib had also “persistently lied and misled the public” when he continually assured that the government would respect human rights and would not revive detention without trial.

“Although the government may argue the amendments will only target organised crime, it is almost certain from the government’s appalling track record on the use of oppressive laws like the ISA, Sedition Act and Peaceful Assembly Act – the PCA will be misused against opposition politicians, dissidents and civil society activists,” Paulsen said in a statement last night.

“See for example how MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar and five other PSM activists were detained under the EO in 2011.”

The DAP has also criticised Najib for breaking his promise, secretary-general Lim Guan Eng saying yesterday that “Najib promised us national reconciliation, but he gave us national retaliation”.

Paulsen added that the proposed law and procedure amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act (PCA) constitute the most “serious assault on human rights” since 1988’s Operation Lallang.

The move to reintroduce detention without trial at Parliament yesterday was all the more deplorable as the amendments were done in “secret”, without consultation with the opposition, civil society and the Malaysian Bar, he said

“LFL is extremely shocked and concerned with the rash of proposed criminal law and procedure amendments with far-reaching implications.”

The amendments to the PCA tabled in Parliament yesterday upset opposition lawmakers as the amendments would allow detention without trial for up to two years, which is similar to the old Internal Security Act.

Additionally, the proposed amendments exclude the provision of judicial review, except if it is on procedural measures and denies legal representation to detainees except when their own evidence is taken during the inquiry process.

The PCA in its current form allows the detention of an individual for up to 72 days unlike the repealed draconian Emergency Ordinance that allowed detention without trial indefinitely.

LFL noted that the entire preamble of the Act was amended to include the provision under Article 149 of the Federal Constitution which states “threatened by a substantial body of persons inside and outside Malaysia to cause, or to cause a substantial number of citizens to fear, organised violence against persons or property”.

“These amendments are absolutely scandalous and an antithesis to our democratic and fundamental rights to freedom from arbitrary detention and punishment, due process, rule of law and legal representation.

“It goes without saying that the amendments are unconstitutional especially since Malaysia is living in peace time with no threats of subversion, insurrection or civil unrest as envisaged by Article 149 of the Federal Constitution,” Paulsen said.

After Najib’s promise, a most “serious assault on human rights” – Lawyers for Liberty
September 26, 2013 – TMI


What Everyone Should Know About Operasi Lalang

Last week, we marked the 25th anniversary of Operasi Lalang, that black day in our history that changed our country for the worst.

Like May 13, 1969, it was a Malaysian tragedy. And after all these years, we have yet to fully recover from it.

The beneficiaries of that notorious official move on Oct 27, 1987, to detain 106 Malaysians under the Internal Security Act (ISA) were – as journalist uppercaise has rightly pointed out in his blog – the then prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and Umno.

Or, to be precise, Mahathir’s Umno Baru, which came about after the original Umno was declared illegal by the High Court in February 1988.

The year before, Mahathir was under siege as president of the party. The party was split – into Team A and Team B. And in April, he was challenged for the presidency by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Members had come to dispute Mahathir’s leadership style. Team B, led by Razaleigh, criticised Mahathir for not consulting other Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders before making decisions.

As prime minister, he put his own people in charge of key operations. His privatisation schemes were given to his cronies. Team B pointed out that the New Economic Policy had failed to benefit poor Malays. Now, in hindsight, it’s even clearer to us why that was so.

Team B made an impact, and Mahathir won the election by polling 761 votes against Razaleigh’s 718, scraping through by a mere 43 votes.

Many people actually expected Razaleigh to win, so the suspicion of election-fixing arose. But Razaleigh accepted defeat and promised to support Mahathir if the latter did not embark on a witchhunt.

Of course, now that we know from hindsight the kind of man Mahathir is, it comes as no surprise that he embarked on a witch-hunt anyway. He removed all Team B supporters from his Cabinet, and did the same at state and local government levels.

In June, a group of Umno members who came to be known as “the Umno 11” filed a suit to have the Umno elections declared illegal because they had found invalid voters among the delegates. These delegates were allegedly from Umno branches that had not been approved by the Registrar of Societies.

The court asked both sides to settle the issue themselves, but an amicable solution was not reached. So on Oct 19, the Umno 11 said it would press on with its legal action.

At the time, the tensions within Umno were being compounded by racial tensions outside. Chinese educationists had been upset by the Education Ministry’s appointing of non-Chinese-educated principals and senior assistants for Chinese schools. The custodians of Chinese education, Dong Jiao Zong – abetted by political parties like the MCA, Gerakan and the DAP – staged a protest against the move.

It immediately provoked a counter-rally by Umno Youth, led by its then-chief Datuk Seri Najib Razak, at which about 10,000 people turned up.

The authorities seized on this potentially explosive situation – and the somewhat random act of an army private running amok in Chow Kit shooting his M16 at people – as a pretext to swoop down on “troublemakers”.

Operasi Lalang resulted in conveniently shutting away a good number of Opposition politicians and civil society activists who had been critical of the Government.

I use the words “pretext” and “conveniently” because most of those detained were not at all involved in the Dong Jiao Zong protest or the Umno Youth counter-rally.

Among them were members of Christian groups, environmentalists and anti-logging natives of Sarawak, and a Malay Christian convert. Why were they taken in?

Forty of the 106 even had their detentions extended by Mahathir for two years. They included DAP deputy chairman Karpal Singh, Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang and his son Guan Eng, some PAS members and numerous NGO activists.

On the other hand, the leaders of the Umno Youth rally who were brandishing banners that called for Chinese blood and proclaimed “May 13 has begun” were untouched. Why were they not taken in?

The Government also conveniently shut down three newspapers that had been critical of it. The Star, Watan and Sin Chew Jit Poh had their publishing permits suspended.

The real story of Operasi Lalang is not about a potential racial war erupting. It is about a despot who wanted to hang on to power, shut out all opposition, and run the country to his own advantage.

That’s what everyone should know.

What Everyone Should Know About Operasi Lalang
Kee Thuan Chye
1 November 2012 – Malaysian Digest


Lest we forget – The autocratic Dr M

OCT 27 — The collective adversity suffered by the DAP, PAS and civil society leaders in 1987 ironically built the steely resolve for change and the deep camaraderie to see it through.

This day 25 years ago, October 27, 1987, was one of the darkest days in Malaysian history when 106 politicians and social activists were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Operation Lalang. Printing permits for three newspapers, namely The Star, Sinchew and Watan, were withdrawn.

The security crackdown that shocked the nation and marked the end of the boisterous, often mistaken as democratic, first phase of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership that began in 1981. Dr Mahathir succeeded Tun Hussein Oon with a weak base in Umno and virtually no one to trust.

By pitting Musa Hitam against Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in Umno’s deputy presidential elections of 1981 and 1984, Dr Mahathir bought himself time and space. But the chickens came home to roost by 1987 when Tengku Razaleigh teamed up with Musa to challenge the Dr Mahathir-Ghafar Baba ticket.

The election on April 24 saw Tengku Razaleigh losing to Dr Mahathir by a mere 43 votes, allegedly after a suspicious blackout at the vote-counting centre.

Umno continued to flounder after the party polls with Dr Mahathir’s legitimacy seriously dented. The purging of Team B supporters such as Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Rais Yatim, Shahrir Samad and Radzi Sheikh Ahmad from the Cabinet and government further de-stabilised the situation.

While Dr Mahathir’s base was weak his style was anything but consultative. Further, the various ideas that he bulldozed were more often than not half-baked, resulting in multiple and major financial scandals in just a few years of his rule. Civil society activism emerged from the more discerning and critical urban populace.

The Islamic revival movement was birthed as the rallying point for those who frowned upon Umno-style get-rich-quick materialism.

Further, Dr Mahathir not only pitted Umno leaders against each other, he was manipulating ethnic sentiments against each other. In October 1987, the Chinese educationist cause mobilised against a policy of placing teachers who had no proficiency in Mandarin to head Chinese schools. Umno Youth was counter-mobilised to whip up Malay sentiment.

Between the April Umno election and October, the Mahathir government drifted purposelessly while his party opponents started a permanent campaign to remove Dr Mahathir in the next party election due in three years’ time.

The rift was felt. Mercury rose.

On October 18, one Private Adam ran amok in Chow Kit with an M16 rifle as Umno Youth was mobilising for a November 1 show of force.

Dr Mahathir seized the timely excuse. On October 27, Ops Lalang was launched to arrest his fiercest external critics including the then Leader of the Opposition Lim Kit Siang and 16 DAP elected reps. Not only Dr Mahathir did paralyse the opposition, he terrified the nation and, more importantly, his Umno opponents.

(In the same way on a smaller scale, the arrest of the Reformasi activists in April 2001 was meant to revive Dr Mahathir’s authority after his administration was shaken for half a year, if not longer, after the shocking defeat at the multiethnic Lunas by-election on November 29, 2000.)

A quarter of a century later, as we look back at Dr Mahathir’s mass detention camp of 1987 while on the cusp a possible change of government, there is a sense of poetic justice that Operation Lalang “united” Barisan Nasional’s opponents and gave them a steely resolve to oppose like never before.

Twenty-five years later, camaraderie in adversity
Liew Chin Tong
October 27, 2012 – TMI


Democracy must never be derailed again

Twenty five years ago, Malaysia witnessed what one person could do to sustain his lust for power. His unabated lust for power unleashed the worst traits in the Barisan Nasional to imprison 106 innocent Malaysians to keep the BN in power.

The man behind this dark episode in our history was none other than Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth prime minister of Malaysia.

On 27 October 1987 the rule of law was discarded, natural justice was ignored, the role of the judiciary was overridden, parliamentary democracy was sidelined so that he could cling on to power at all costs and by all means.

As prime minister, home minister and justice minister, Mahathir rode roughshod so that his position would remain safe and sound and that there would be no one to challenge him.

Today, more than ever, we must remember this shameful part of our history and wonder whether this will be repeated when the results of the 13th general election are announced.

The BN is on a very weak wicket and the possibility of a change in government is very imminent and staring in the face of the BN. Will the sixth prime minister emulate the shameful conduct of Mahathir in order to cling on to power by all means?

When one is addicted to power it is difficult to give it up in the name of democracy. This is the problem with the BN.

As long as Najib refuses to solemnly pledge that there will be a peaceful transfer of power should the opposition secure a win following the 13th general election, Malaysians should remain vigilant and ensure that the victory of the opposition will be by a wide margin.

As long as the margin of victory is respectable, there is hope that democracy will prevail. But if the victory is by a very narrow, flimsy margin, then we must expect the worst to happen.

On this day, it is important for Malaysians to recall that dark episode in our history and pledge to ensure that we will never allow a repeat of that day of infamy. Democracy must never be derailed again.

Let’s remember that only a change in government will prevent this from happening.

The lust for power sustained through the ISA
P Ramakrishnan
Oct 27, 2012 – Malaysiakini Letters

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?