Government urged to accept Suhakam proposal on ISA repeal


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 15 Apr 2003

BY SHAILA KOSHY

PETALING JAYA: The Government should accept the proposal of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA). 

“The Government should realise that it is in the interest of the nation and Malaysian citizens to adopt Suhakam’s recommendation,” said International Movement for a Just World (JUST) president Dr Chandra Muzaffar. 

In calling for a repeal without any reservations, the Aliran executive committee said there were adequate laws in Malaysia to “take care of every possible crime that may pose a challenge to the police.” 

“The problem is not the absence of legislation but the abuse of government powers to intimidate and penalise legitimate dissent in the name of protecting national security.” 

DAP national chairman Lim Kit Siang said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Acting Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, should give a serious undertaking that Cabinet would study Suhakam’s recommendations and submit a report of the Cabinet position for debate in Parliament.  

Lim added that Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who was quoted in The Star on Friday as saying the report was “timely” since he had been tasked to evaluate all security and public order laws, would be “failing in his duty as the de-facto law minister if he fails to act in a timely manner to get the Cabinet to act on the report – especially as he himself had done a masterly study of the ISA.” 

Last Wednesday, Suhakam released its review of the ISA. It had recommended that the ISA be replaced and that reference be made to the anti-terrorism laws of the United States, Britain and Canada. 

In commending Suhakam, Dr Chandra said that Sections 8 and 73 of the ISA – which allow for detention without trial – violated “a fundamental human right” and “a basic axiom of Islamic jurisprudence: the right of a human being to a fair and free trial.” 

In a statement on Saturday, the Malaysian Bar Council voiced its support for Suhakam’s views. 

“A prosperous, fair, democratic and secure society cannot exist in an environment which does not place human rights values in high status and priority,” said its chairman Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari. 

He said that while the Bar Council realised the need for the power of detention for genuine investigative purposes, anti-subversion laws like the ISA could only be supported if it was accompanied by fair procedures, adequate safeguards against abuse and effective availability of judicial process. 

“Steps must be taken to ensure that the balance between legitimate public security concerns and fundamental liberties is fairly struck not merely in theory but also in practice,” said Kuthubul. 

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