Chairman of the Suhakam Internal Security Act (ISA) public inquiry, Tan Sri
Harun Hashim said yesterday that detention for two years under the ISA will be
pointless in the absence of efforts to rehabilitate detainees. In that case, detention was more punishment than
rehabilitation and holding a detainee for a long period was costly.
said feedback from the Prisons Department indicated it was holding detainees on
the orders of the authorities. There
was no rehabilitation programme of any sort, unlike the case of criminals, where
the Prisons Department have rehabilitation programmes aimed at bringing them
back into mainstream society.
said it is a waste of time and public money to hold them without any change
totally aghast by Harunís comments which showed that the ISA inquiry has lost
its raison díetre when it is more concerned about rehabilitation than
fundamental violation of human rights of the draconian and anachronistic ISA.
Suhakam ISA inquiry seems to have lost sight of its very raison díetre to
probe into the compatibility of the ISA with the human rights commitments of
Malaysia as affirmed in the Federal Constitution and the nationís membership
in the United Nations and is operating like a surrogate for the Auditor-General
or the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, getting lost in the by-paths and alleys
in investigating into the cost-effectiveness of the Kamunting Detention Centre
in holding ISA detainees.
Suhakam ISA Inquiry should quickly get back to the nub of Suhakamís very
existence, to ascertain whether human rights have been violated and whether
detainees should be incarcerated without trial and not whether they should be
rehabilitated or how budgetary allocations for the Prisons Department can be
spent more effectively!
Human Rights Commission Inquiry in Burma had shown itself more concerned about
the rehabilitation of Aung San Suu Kyi when she was in detention instead of her
release, it would have sparked an international outrage, and Harunís comments yesterday is no
less offensive in the disregard and insensitivity to the Suhakamís statutory
duty to protect and promote human rights.
is Suhakam performing its statutory duty to protect and promote human rights by
being more concerned about rehabilitation than the very detention of ISA
comments have gravely shaken public confidence in the Suhakam ISA inquiry but it
is not too late to salvage it.
three-member Suhakam ISA inquiry should be fully aware that it is ridiculous and
a farce if it concludes its proceedings without giving the Reformasi Six, namely
Mohamad Ezam Mohamad Nor, Hishamuddin Rais, Chua Tian Chang, Saari Sungib,
Badrulamin Bahron and Lokman Noor Adam, an
opportunity to appear and give personal testimony of the multiple gross
violations of human rights in their ISA detentions.
never agreed with the decision of the Reformasi Six to boycott the Suhakam ISA
inquiry and had publicly called on them to end their boycott to appear before the inquiry.
grave reservations about the scope of the Harun Hashim public inquiry were
valid, and this was why I had repeatedly asked Suhakam to clarify whether the
inquiry was the beginning of a wide-ranging
Suhakam review of the ISA including whether it should be repealed
or whether it would be strictly
limited to inquiry into the detention conditions of the ISA detainees, including
their medical and visitation rights.
Harun had said during
the Suhakam public inquiry
in June that it was
being held to give the commission, the public and the world ďa clear
picture of the Internal Security ActĒ, and testimony given at the inquiry to
date had gone well beyond the parameters about the detention conditions, the
Suhakam inquiry will be estopped from
preventing the Reformasi Six from giving
testimony, submissions and
proof that the ISA constitutes
violations of human rights.
the Suhakam ISA inquiry closes its public hearings without giving the Reformasi
Six another opportunity to appear before it, it will not only be a missed
opportunity for the Reformasi Six
to let Malaysians and the world hear their first-hand testimony,
it will also be a missed
opportunity to Suhakam to prove that it is relevant to its
statutory mandate to promote and protect human rights and a credible
institution where Malaysians can repose confidence to break new grounds and
expand the frontiers of human
rights in the country in the 21st century.