The Star reported that Mahathir said that the detainees had planned street demonstrations and purchased arms to topple the government.
He said: “We were very fortunate that we had received information early on and were able to act fast.
“If they are tried in open court, they would have had slick lawyers to bail them out.
“What is important is the freedom of the majority.”
In a few sentences, Mahathir had not only repeated unproven allegations against the Reformasi Six, cast aspersions on the integrity of the legal profession and the judiciary, he had also claimed government immunity from any accountability especially in the exercise of the awesome powers of detention without trial under the ISA.
The detention of the Reformasi Six is the latest example of the iniquity of the ISA, where the government is not only relieved of the onus of having to prove its allegations but enables it to make the most preposterous falsehoods against the detainees in utter impunity and immunity.
When the police launched the ISA arrests leading to the detention of the Reformasi Six, the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai spoke of a “militant plot” to topple the government citing as examples of such militant tactics the securing of explosives including bombs and grenade launchers and the recruitment of silat (martial arts) instructors and a big number of former officers and members of the security forces.
Just as there has been no evidence to support the allegation by some UMNO Ministers and leaders that the University of Malaya Dewan Tunku Chancellor pre-dawn fire on June 29 was caused by sabotage and arson by anti-government “militant” student activists, there is no evidence after 60 days of ISA interrogations that the Reformasi Six were involved with any “militant plot” to topple the elected government by force. The government is unable to produce a single grenade launcher or bomb to justify the detention of the Reformasi Six in the way they displayed the weaponry captured by the Al-Maunah extremists to MPs.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi said after signing the ISA detention orders in early June that he was “satisfied” with the police report that there was enough evidence to detain them under the ISA as they “posed a threat to national security and stability”.
Nobody is asking Mahathir or Abdullah to apologise for the detention of the Reformasi Six under the ISA, but the least Malaysians expect from them is that they should substantiate the serious allegations made against the Reformasi Six for being involved in a militant conspiracy to topple the elected government by force.
Both Mahathir and Abdullah should realise that although they do not have to answer to a court of law to justify the detention of the Reformasi Six under the ISA, they must satisfy the court of public opinion that they had not abused the ISA powers on spurious grounds for partisan political interests, completely misusing the terms “national security and stability”.
It is significant that in all major ISA arrests previously, White Papers had been issued to convince the Malaysian pubic that the government had not acted arbitrarily or carpriciously but had a case from the standpoint of national security and stability, whether it be the University of Malay Chinese Language Society arrests or Operation Lalang - but the government has been very shy in issuing a public document to justify the first ISA crackdown in the 21st century against the Reformasi Six.
Is this because the government is aware that that it could not present a case for the ISA detention of the Reformasi Six which could stand up to public examination let alone the scrutiny of a court of law?
If so, then the Reformasi Six should be released from Kamunting Detention
Centre under the ISA without further ado.
Otherwise, Abdullah should present a White Paper in the current meeting of Parliament to satisfy the court of public opinion that the Barisan Nasional government had not abused the ISA to detain the Reformasi Six on utterly spurious grounds.