(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Dr. Abdul Hamid Othman said some of the eight people arrested recently under the Internal Security Act (ISA) advocated violence in their speeches and writings.
DAP calls for the immediate release of the eight persons detained recently under the ISA and their public trial under the Sedition Act if they had advocated violence in their speeches and writings.
As one who had twice been detained under the Internal Security Act, I regard with the greatest skepticism the grounds given by the authorities for the use of the ISA to justify detention without trial. However, as there are existing laws in the country to deal with those who advocate violence to overthrow the present system of government, namely the Sedition Act, the government should use the Sedition Act and not the Internal Security Act.
Up to now, the Government has not released to the public nor informed Parliament the full particulars of the eight persons detained under the Internal Security Act, although I had mentioned in Parliament on Thursday three of the eight persons detained under the ISA, namely Ustaz Abdullah Hassan, believed to be a PAS activist from Pendang, Kedah, Paharuddin Mustapah, a former Parti Rakyat Malaysia activist from Bukit Mertajam, and Kamarulzaman Ismail from Muar, Johore.
It is most ironic and insupportable that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad should be fighting for greater transparency in international capital markets like currency trading, but the government is not prepared to be equally bound by the principle of greater transparency in its national policies and actions.
The Government should practice in Malaysia what it is preaching in the international arena about the need for greater transparency.
On the recent ISA arrests, the government should make public the full particulars and grounds for the detention of the eight persons concerned and release the eight persons immediately and charge those who advocate violence under the Sedition Act where an open trial could be held with the accused given the opportunity to defend themselves.
In the same spirit of the principle of transparency which Mahathir is advocating in the international capital markets, the Prime Minister should take immediate measures to lift the ban on academicians from talking to the media about the haze and the environment. A Cabinet which believes in transparency would never have issued such a gag order on academicians.
In his foreword to the book, In Liberal Doses by his daughter Marina Mahathir, the Prime Minister had written:
"Society needs critics. Without them society can go very wrong, complacent with everything it does. Critics are absolutely necessary for those playing a leading role in society. Without criticisms they would not know when they are wrong, and may not even know what is going on around them. Society and leaders of society should therefore not just tolerate critics but should welcome them."
In another part of the foreword, Mahathir also wrote:
"We live in an imperfect society. We are all imperfect individuals. This is no excuse for us not to try to be perfect, to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. To know when we are right or wrong we need a mirror. The critic holds up the mirror so we may see ourselves, warts and all."
I call on Mahathir to respect the role of academicians as critics of society who are performing a public and national service by pointing out the faults of the nation, whether about the haze or the environment, so that Malaysians can see themselves, "warts and all", and to get the Cabinet gag-order on academicians lifted immediately.