The eight arrested under ISA are mostly likely to be formally detained for two years after the 60-day period as the political decision seems to have been made at the highest level

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): An important line seems to have been crossed in the past few days by the powers-that-be from wanting at all costs  to avoid or be seen to be avoiding from  using the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA)  to a frame-of-mind  heedless of public opinion and trigger-happy to  resort to the ISA as a solution to intractable political challenges and problems.

While the  Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai said the police have identified “a few more individuals” for arrest under the ISA, there have been a rising crescendo of calls by UMNO leaders for the use of the ISA to resolve various UMNO problems - like the statement by the Religious Adviser to the Prime Minister, Datuk Paduka Dr. Abdul Hamid Othman that the ISA could be used to arrest the PAS Terengganu Mentri Besar, Abdul Hadi Awang for the “Amanat Hadi Awang” 20 years ago (Berita Harian) and the statement by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin that the government might use the ISA to arrest political leaders who practised money politics. (The Star).

Malaysia seems to have suddenly degenerated into  an “ISA country” where there  is not only the  infamous but rarely-used detention-without-trial law, but a government which  developed an  appetite to use the ISA as the first resort  when faced with political challenges and problems, as it dispenses with all the hassle of having to assemble evidence and prove that any offence had been committed in a public trial in a court of law!

How convenient and easy life must be for the government if it could “cold-storage” all other laws in the country and just resort to one law,  the detention-without-trial ISA,  to deal with all its problems where government political leaders could be prosecutor, judge, jury, executioner all rolled into one.

There must be an immediate halt to such dangerous, insidious and undemocratic tendencies which, if not nipped in the bud, will plunge Malaysia into  a new dark age of dictatorship.

The eight arrested under ISA are mostly likely to be formally detained for two years after the 60-day period as the political decision seems to have been made at the highest level.

In Parliament on Thursday, Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung publicly admitted that “the Deputy Prime Minister had no knowledge of the arrests when it happened as the police were fully authorised to act then”, but the Prime Minister had known about it a week earlier as he had told MPs in the debate on OPP3 that the government would break from “international norms” on human rights and democratic freedoms!

But it is Chor’s justification of the ISA arrests which gave away the real game.  Chor said during the winding-up of  the debate on the supplementary estimates for the Home Ministry:

“If you saw the evidence collected by the police, you would surely be afraid and shocked as massive demonstrations were being planned to make it seem that the country would be in a continuous state of turmoil.”

This statement is justification not just  for the detention under the ISA for 60 days for police interrogation under Section 73(1) of the ISA, but for the Home Minister to order their two-year detention under Section 8 of the ISA!

How could Chor be so brave and reckless to publicly prejudge the ISA detentions as to give the grounds for their formal detention for two years if  a decision had not already been  taken at  the highest political level on the matter  - which probably also explains the sudden ignominious turnaround of the Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik on the issue!

But if the evidence collected by the police against the eight reformasi activists are so overwhelming and overpowering, why have the police been so shy to make them public to convince Malaysians and the world that  these are  indeed security and not political cases?


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman