Saturday, July 31, 2010

50 years of ISA

Tian Chua

1 August is the 50th Anniversary of ISA. The notorious law was enacted in 1960 when the legitimacy of the newly founded federation of Malaya was challenged by armed insurgency.

The ruling Alliance led by late Tunku Abdul Rahman assured the Parliament that the ISA would not be used against dissidents abiding by peaceful means of struggle and within the framework of the Constitution. Nonetheless as soon as it was passed, activists from a wide range of political spectrum became victims of the repressive law.

It is obvious that despite the apologists of authoritarian regime frequently justifying the law in the name national security, the ISA is undoubtedly oppressive, undemocratic and it contravenes basic human rights. In half a century of its existence, thousands of people had been imprisoned, and deprived of their families, livelihood and freedom.

The draconian law has conveniently become the weapon for the BN regime to perpetuate corruption and to cover up its misuses of power. It is also a tool to institutionalize a culture of fear among the Malaysian people.

The practice of detention without trial is not condoned by any religious values. In addition to preventive detention, the ISA had been a license for the authorities to torture and torment detainees. Thus such inhumane law should be condemned by democratic minded people both domestically and globally.

In the last few years, in collaborating with civil society organizations, Parti Keadilan Rakyat had intensified its campaign against the ISA. We are unequivocal in our demand for the abolition of the notorious law.

KEADILAN regrets the reluctance and delay in removing the provision for indefinite detention. Throughout 50 years we have witnessed innocent individuals becoming victims of this unjust law. The long list of people included Anwar Ibrahim, Syed Husin Ali, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, Lim Guan Eng, Jeffry Kittingan, Mat Sabu, and many other Pakatan Rakyat leaders.

We believe that Najib and his Government is aware of the growing opposition against the Act. The PM must surely understand that the continuous existence of the ISA will project a negative image of Malaysia in the eyes of the international community.

By not abolishing the ISA, we suspect PM Najib is keeping his options open. Once the political interests of the ruling UMNO are threatened, I am convinced Najib would have no qualms in ordering a heavy crackdown using the ISA.

On behalf of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, I reiterate our firm and unambiguous stand-- the ISA must be abolished. We are determined to continue our struggle for change and to make sure that laws which are inconsistent with human rights and democracy are eventually reformed.

(Tian Chua is the Member of Parliament for Batu and the strategic director of PKR)


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