BY : MOHAMED HANIPA MAIDIN
JUNE 29 — The government is looking into a proposal to reduce the detention period under the Internal Security Act from 60 to 28 days, said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. The home minister said this was among the suggestions made to review the controversial Act, which is up for review in the next Parliament meeting.
However, he cautioned that the revision of the ISA could not be rushed as there were many things that needed to be sorted out, such as getting feedback from related government agencies, such as the Immigration Department, prison authorities, police and non-governmental organisations.
He further said that "the opposition is afraid because once we amend these laws, they will be out of bullets to accuse the BN of not being serious in helping the people. They only want to politicise the issue."
He added that the opposition was welcome to submit proposals on the matter but that the government would not engage them in discussion.
PAS has never agreed with the ISA since this “satanic” legislation was born. Thus the question of agreeing to the proposed amendments of this draconian law does not arise at all. For us there is only one solution to the ISA — that is by abolishing it. Period. PAS believes that the ISA is a wicked law and only needed by a wicked government in order to protect and hide its wicked acts.
National security mantra has been used again and again to justify the existence and continuity of this law. When BN claims that this law is necessary for national security it is in fact driving home various implicit points inter alia it is all right to detain a person without trial. In other words a trial is not important at all to ISA detainees.
It is also all right not to give a person a right to be presumed innocence until proven guilty for the ISA presumes him or her to be guilty forever.
It is also all right to incarcerate a man in a solitary confinement and subject him to interrogation for very long hours (some are even denied sleep) by several policemen.
All these inhumane and degrading treatments are acceptable and tolerable in the interest of “national” security. Human dignity is irrelevant and immaterial when it collides with national security. Islam says God has dignified the sons of Adam. The ISA on the other hand says get lost with human dignity. National security is everything.
I am not sure whether Hishammuddin has read all the books written by those who had been detained under the ISA. I am equally unsure whether he has read any court judgments on cases involving the ISA. If he has, he should be able to know that in many circumstances the purported reasons of national security are merely lame excuses created by the government. BN security has always been camouflaged as national security.
If he does not believe that national security threats are only lame excuses created by the BN government I strongly recommend him to read a judgment given by a Federal Court in the case of Ezam Mohd Nor, Tian Chua, Saari Sungib and Hishamuddin Rais vs Government of Malaysia . The judgment was given on Aug 6, 2002.
The Federal Court judgment demonstrates beyond any doubt that the reason of national security was only fake. The Federal Court, encompassing four unanimous judgments, held that the police had acted mala fide in detaining the four because of their political beliefs and not because they were a threat to national security as required by Section 73(1) of the ISA. The court thus held their ISA detention was unlawful.
Hishammuddin Hussein’s argument that this law has proven successful in stamping out communism must be held against him. In fact his argument serves as a good reason for the government to repeal this obnoxious law. Was not the very purpose of this Act to stamp out the communist threat? The very fact that the country no longer faces a communist threat clearly shows that this law has outlived its purpose. It has lost its raison d'être.
PAS has been advocating the abolishment of the ISA simply because this law is glaringly against the teaching of Islam. Thus it is sinful to preserve this dreadful Act. Injustices are deeply ingrained in this obnoxious law. Injustice is an antithesis to Islam. As Winston Churchil rightly pointed out, injustice everywhere threatens justice anywhere.
There are a plethora of Quranic verses enjoining believers to do justice. God asks us to be just at all times, not only occasionally, and to refuse to accept oppression. “O believers! be steadfast before God, witness in justice” (5: 8). Muslims are constantly reminded that “My Lord hath commanded justice” (7: 29) and that “You should be kind to them and act justly towards them” (60: 8).
Fighting injustice, oppression and evil doing is itself just and the means of establishing justice. The word for injustice, oppression or evildoing in Arabic (zulm) is used as the opposite of justice and is in its various forms one of the most frequently used terms in the Quran, which states, “God wisheth not injustice for (His) creatures (3: 108).
When the law is utterly unjust, reducing the period of detention from 60 days to 28 days does not remove the evilness of such a law. ISA is not opposed because it detains a person for 60 days or 28 days.
It is opposed because such a law endorses a person to be detained without any trial thus extinguishing his prime right to challenge his innocence in a court of law.
Be that as it may even if the period of detention is reduced to one day or one minute justice demands people to rise and oppose such a law so long as it deprives a detainee of his day in court. By denying a person his right to be tried in any court of law, how are we going to know a person is guilty or not?
It is interesting to know how Umno perceives the notion of justice. Does Umno’s version of justice include the government’s unchecked prerogative not to give a person his day in a court of law.
It seems that Umno’s notion of justice does not permit a detainee to challenge the police version of “national security” in any court of law. One wonders whether Umno is really aware that a person detained under this law is legally prohibited from challenging the discretion of the minister.
It means that even when the minister is completely wrong, nobody — not even the court of law — can question his decision. How then can we associate justice with this law?
It is common knowledge that the execution of this law has been tainted with utter discrimination. Who created the trouble prior to the massive arrest and detention of opposition leaders in the Ops Lalang in 1987? When Lee Kim Sai, a MCA leader and Najib Razak, an Umno leader, were playing with racial cards it was PAS and DAP leaders who were incarcerated in Kamunting. And thanks to the indiscriminate action by the police when an Umno leader in Penang made racial remarks and the same were reported by a woman journalist of a Chinese newspaper, only the latter was detained under this law.
But it must be understood here that ISA is not condemned because the victims of this evil Act used to be PAS or DAP or Keadilan leaders or supporters. Rest assured that even if Umno leaders are detained under this law we will condemn it as the British used to say what's good for the goose is also good for the gander.