Cabinet on Wednesday should ask for the immediate release of the Reformasi Seven unless it is satisfied with evidence that the police has reason to act under Section 73 (1) of ISA

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Cabinet Ministers are coming out with new-fangled and unacceptable  interpretations of the Internal Security Act (ISA)  to justify the ISA arrests of the Reformasi Seven as well as to criticise the Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) for its call for their immediate release.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim even made the ludicrous allegation that Suhakam had given a “boost to reformasi activities” in its “exuberant” and “extraneous’” call for the immediate release of the Reformasi Seven.

Rais said Suhakam should understand its role was to ensure that human rights was not violated and "by merely detaining the seven, human rights has not been violated as yet''.

I am flabbergasted by such logic coming from a person who had written the book “Freedom under Executive Power in Malaysia” where he argued eloquently that “detention without trial is indeed the antithesis to the rule of law” and called for the immediate revocation of the ISA on six grounds, including:

How can Rais now claim that human rights violation of the ISA cannot occur  when a person is detained for 60 days under Section 73(1) but only when a Minister issues a formal detention order under Section 8 of the ISA?

The Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, has given a most new-fangled interpretation when he said that it was all right to to detain the seven under the  ISA for investigation, but that they should be released if there are no evidence to charge them in court after 60 days.

Keng Yaik clearly does not understand what is in the ISA, which allows a person to be detained indefinitely without trial without any evidence of having committed any offence against the law of the land!

Rais, Keng Yaik and all Cabinet Ministers must understand that human rights violation begins when a person is detained under Section 73(1) of the ISA for a maximum of 60-day interrogative custody.

Section 73(1) of the Internal Security Act 1960 reads:

“73(1). Any Police officer may without warrant arrest and  detain pending enquiries any person in respect of  whom he has reason to believe -
a. that there are grounds which would justify his  detention under section 8;  and
b.  that  he has acted or is about to act or is likely  to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to the maintenance of  essential services therein or to the economic life  thereof.”

The police would be abusing the arrest powers of Section 73(1) of the ISA and therefore committed a gross human right violation if it does not have genuine reason to believe that there are grounds for such an arrest as provided by Section 73(1)(a) and (b).

As the Reformasi Seven had been accused of being the “secret cell” involved in a militant conspiracy for the violent overthrow of the government using  explosives, bombs and grenade-launchers and that such a conspiracy had been in existence for two-and-half-years, the Cabinet on Wednesday should demand for such evidence from the police or call  for  the immediate release of the Reformasi Seven if the police cannot produce  evidence to justify detention of the seven under Section 73 (1) of ISA.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman