Suhakam’s views on ISA to be noted

  • Nation
  • Friday, 11 Apr 2003


PETALING JAYA: The Government will consider the views of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) in its evaluation of the Internal Security Act, said Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. 

“About two years ago, the Cabinet had directed me to evaluate all security and public order laws. 

“But then the Al-Ma’unah and KMM cases came up and the work of the Law Co-ordination Committee went into abeyance. 

“But the exercise has been rekindled. We will be looking at the situation holistically as well as specifically, for example, studying the cases and judgments,” said the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who is charge of legal affairs. 

He said this yesterday when asked to comment on Suhakam’s recommendation that the ISA be repealed and replaced with a more comprehensive legislation that would only be in effect for one year unless renewed by Parliament. 

The commission’s Law Reform Working Group chairman Datuk K.C. Vohrah had on Wednesday released its 186-page report on the ISA. 

The report noted that the preamble to the Act contemplated its use “only in circumstances where there is a present and imminent danger that a substantial body both inside and outside of Malaysia is seeking to overthrow the lawful Government of Malaysia through unlawful means, which must include instilling fear amongst a substantial number of citizens because they resort to organised violence against persons and property.” 

It stressed that the ISA should not be used in “cases where the commission of such offence may be dealt with under ordinary criminal law using ordinary criminal procedures.” 

It added that Sections 8 and 73 – which conferred on the minister and the police, respectively, the power to detain a person without trial – contravened human rights principles. 

Dr Rais declined to comment on the report save to say that its release was timely and that the Law Co-ordination Committee would “consider the objective views of Suhakam”. 

“The Attorney-General’s Chambers has been enlisted to give its views on the ISA, the Restricted Residence Act (RRA), as well as the emergency and public order regulations. 

“In evaluating the ISA, they will look at the preamble to the ISA and Sections 8 and 73. But our committee will also be looking at the death sentence under Section 57 (offences relating to firearms, ammunition and explosives) and the duplicity of functions under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act and the RAA. 

“I can’t tell you now what the final decision will be. But in no way can the Government relent to a position where there is no law to counter terrorism,” he added.  

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