As a two-time Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee, I am very concerned about the safety and treatment of the ten ISA detainees, particularly the first seven, namely Parti Keadilan Nasional Youth chief Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor, its vice president Tian Chua; Keadilan supreme council member N. Gobalakrishnan, Penang Keadilan Youth exco member Abdul Ghani Harun, former JIM Chairman Saari Sungib, Free Anwar Campaign director Raja Petra Kamaruddin and social activist Hishamuddin Rais.
The “assurance” given by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Datuk Jamil Johari when he responded to the query on the condition of the detainees: “What more safer place than in police hands?” is no assurance at all.
Anwar Ibrahim and many other ISA detainees who had been victims of police brutality during the 60-day ISA interrogation period would have dissented and asserted that that in the circumstances, there is “no more dangerous place than in police hands”.
Although the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had given an assurance that he did not want to see "another black eye" and that "We have had enough with one black eye …We don't want to see two or three more", the police refusal to allow access to the detainees after three weeks of the initial arrest raises alarm about their safety and treatment short of "another black eye".
Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung does not know what he is talking about when he said that families of the 10 ISA detainees will be allowed to meet them only after police have completed their investigations.
Can he tell how many of the 118 politicians, social activists and academics who were detained under the ISA during Operation Lalang in 1987 were still denied access to family members in the fourth week of their 60-day detention? I will be surprised if there is any such single person.
Ministers should query in Cabinet tomorrow why the ISA is being administered with unusual harshness and callousness this time, in utter disregard of the legitimate concerns of family members, Malaysians and the international civil society about the safety and treatment of the detainees by the obdurate refusal to allow access to their family members against all past police practices.
If Ministers dare not question the use of ISA, the least they should do is to ensure that it is not applied in the most inhuman manner in the 41-year history of the ISA by raising the issue of immediate family access for the 10 ISA detainees at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow.