(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): I call on the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to direct the immediate and unconditional release of the first Information Technology (IT) ISA detainee in Malaysia, computer technician Shaharudin Abdul Kadir so as not to undermine the entire Multimedia Super Corridor project.
So far, the police have refused to give any comment on the detention of Shaharudin under the Internal Security Act (ISA), who was taken away from his home at Taman Tasik Selatan by 10 plainclothes policemen in the early hours of last Friday, 19th February 1999.
No reasons were given to the family members of his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention. The police confiscated dozens of diskettes and his computer hard-disk.
Shaharudin’s arrest appears to have made history as the first ISA Information Technology (IT) arrest, and threatens the very success of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) as it makes nonsense of the Bill of Guarantees issued by the government to attract the world’s cream of IT brains to Malaysia.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has gone round the world to sell the MSC promising to create an environment where collaboration, creativity and risk-sharing are fostered to enable the experimentation with new ideas to catapult Malaysia into the information age.
For this purpose, the government has announced a ten-point Bill of Guarantee which, among other things, promises that there will be no internet censorship in Malaysia.
How can such a guarantee that there shall be no internet censorship in Malaysia have credibility when the Internal Security Act could be used against anyone at the cutting edge of infomation technology.
If the MSC is not to be scuttled, the Bill of Guarantees should be expanded to include a new guarantee that there shall be no use of the ISA with its detention-without-trial laws at the cutting edge of the information technology.