Zainalís statement in Parliament that family members and Suhakam can visit the 10 ISA detainees after police completed investigations a meaningless and outrageous gesture


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The statement by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin in Parliament yesterday that family members and the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) will be allowed to visit the 10 detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) once the police have completed their investigations appeared as if the government had made a great concession on humanitarian grounds when in fact it is a meaningless and outrageous gesture.

If such a statement is taken in its full literal sense, it would mean that family members and Suhakam would be allowed to visit the ISA detainees only after the end of the 60-day interrogative custody, as Section 73 of the ISA permits the police 60 days to complete its investigations - probably at the Kamunting Detention Centre.

I want to reiterate my daily-increasing concern as a  two-time Internal Security Act (ISA)  detainee  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 who are completing their  four-week detention, probably making them ISA detainees longest denied access to family members in the past quarter of a century.

The past police practice is to allow ISA detainees to have first access by their family members by the end of the second or latest the beginning of the third week of arrest, and Malaysians must be told why the ISA is being applied
in such a harsh and  inhuman manner in the case of these ten ISA arrests?

Zainal should check with the Police to find out  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 by  the fourth week of their  60-day detention. I will be surprised if there was any Operation Lalang detainee who was still denied access to family members in the fourth week of detention.

Is the Police being unusually harsh and inhuman in the application of the ISA this time by denying access to family members a form of police reprisal against Suhakamís intervention on the behalf of ISA detainees and its call for their immediate release or to be charged in court?

It would be very sad if this is the case, where instead of protecting the human rights of the  ISA detainees, Suhakamís intervention has led to the harshest and most inhuman application of the ISA by denying family access even in the fourth week of detention.

Suhakam should seek clarification from the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Norian Mai for  the reason for the unusually harsh and most inhuman application of the ISA against the ten ISA detainees, as this dimension of the detention-without-trial law merit the specific attention of Suhakam.

(3/5/2001)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman