No more claptrap about ISA reform – Najib should first release all ISA detainees, close down Kamunting centre and suspend ISA for two years pending repeal or review

The Star yesterday carried a most misleading front-page headline “ISA review begins”, reporting that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was honouring his promise to initiate a comprehensive review of the Internal Security Act as he had promised when he took office last month as the country’s sixth Prime Minister.

But thinking and perceptive Malaysians would have wondered whether this was the case, as many questions cropped up immediately when they read in the report that the government’s “first step towards reviewing the Internal Security Act (ISA)” was the formation of the Law Reform Committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong on April 29.

Is Najib really seriously about a “comprehensive review of the ISA” when the committee assigned this task is headed by such a political lightweight, who is only a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department?

Just on this point, the whole idea of any “comprehensive review of ISA” could be dismissed as hogwash!

The story on the start of the ISA review took on a surreal and even “Alice-in-the-Wonderland” quality when it is further reported that the Law Reform Committee’s ”first step” to undertake a “comprehensive review of the ISA” would be a briefing session on Wednesday and Thursday involving the Legal Affairs Department and the Legal Aid Bureau.

What a laughable state of affairs! What has the “comprehensive review of the ISA” got to do with these two government agencies?

The surreal and “Alice-in-the-Wonderland” quality deepened when Liew made further revelations, viz:

• The condescending statement that his committee would work with the Home Ministry to “amend the relevant parts” of the ISA; and

• He would “engage the Malaysian Bar and other legal associations in the country as well as the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Suhakam”.

Would the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail “engage” with such a lowly Deputy Minister in his capacity as Chairman of the Law Reform Committee, or would Liew have to “engage” with third or fourth-liners from the Home Ministry and the Attorney-General’s Chambers?

The message from the Star front-page headline report yesterday was that Najib was just not serious at all about any “comprehensive review of the ISA”, when it is left to such a political lightweight.

I withheld comment as I expected a conflicting version, and it came within hours from the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who said that it is the Home Minister, Hishammuddin who is tasked to conduct the ISA review exercise.

Now, who is responsible for the “comprehensive review of the ISA” – Liew or Hishammuddin or jointly, between a deputy minister and a full minister?

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of KPI for Ministers, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon should take note of this “Alice-in-the-wonderland” development in the Najib Cabinet, as it must drag down the KPIs of the Cabinet members concerned!

Malaysians do not want another round of claptrap by Barisan Nasional leaders about reform of Internal Security Act which ends up in nothing, as had happened many a time in the past two decades, whether under the premiership of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad or Tun Abdullah.

Najib should prove his sincerity about a “comprehensive review of ISA” by releasing all ISA detainees, close down Kamunting centre and suspend ISA for two years pending ISA repeal or review.

Muhyiddin said yesterday that the review of the ISA tasked to Hishammuddin “would take time”? Two years, three years or indefinitely until after the next general election?

This is ridiculous as in the past two premiership of Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah, the ISA had been repeatedly reviewed internally by the government, and there must be mountains of papers of such review collecting dust and mould in government archives – not to mention available parliamentary, Suhakam, Bar Council and civil society materials.

If Najib is serious about a “comprehensive review of ISA”, there is no reason why the Cabinet at its meeting tomorrow cannot decide on a deadline for such a review so that necessary legislative follow-up actions could be made in the 10-day meeting of Parliament from June 15 – 30, 2009.

After the Cabinet meeting tomorrow, Najib should let the country know who is assigned the task of the ISA “comprehensxive review” – whether Liew or Hishammuddin.

Furthermore, why he is not prepared to allow a high-powered independent committee or even Suhakam to undertake such a review, giving it a one-moth deadline to submit its recommendations?

Najib and his Cabinet should not be the first to forget their new motto of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” so as not to become a national joke in record time to mean “1Black Malaysia. People Last. Performance Never”.

  1. #1 by dawsheng on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 10:26 am

    (NST) KUALA LUMPUR: Elected representatives should display greater responsibility towards their constituents rather than abandon their duties unreasonably.

    Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said M. Manoharan should not use his detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) as a reason to quit as Kota Alam Shah state assemblyman.

    “After winning an election, it’s time for him to get to work. He should be responsible enough and not step down unnecessarily as is being done by those from some political parties.

    “The exceptions are when he is declared a bankrupt, convicted or dies.”

    He said DAP’s Manoharan could still perform his duties despite being under ISA detention.

    He said this after a visit to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka in Jalan Wisma Putra here yesterday.

    On the review of the ISA, Muhyiddin said the government was studying input from various quarters, including civil societies, political parties and Malaysians at large.

    Manoharan had expressed his intention to quit, saying he could not serve his constituents while under detention.

    He is scheduled to have a meeting with DAP chairman Karpal Singh at the Kamunting detention centre in Taiping on May 19, following which a final decision will be made on whether he will resign.

    Manoharan, the legal adviser of the banned Hindu Rights Action Force, and four of its leaders were detained under the ISA on Dec 13, 2007.

    He won the Kota Alam Shah seat with a 7,184 majority over Barisan Nasional’s Ching Su Chen in the March 8 general election last year.

    Muhyiddin said he had also spoken to MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek over his possible defection to the opposition.

    “People like Dr Chua are seasoned politicians and I don’t think he will easily defect,” said Muhyiddin.

    Dr Chua had publicly admitted to an online portal that he was being courted by Pakatan Rakyat.

  2. #2 by OrangRojak on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 10:40 am

    Suhakam? I thought it had ceased to exist. What was the final outcome of the failure to comply with the Paris Principles?

    The idea of CSL being ‘courted’ by Pakatan Rakyat makes me want to cough my breakfast up. I hope you’re using different hotels this time.

    I guess since there are ministers arguing over who is conducting the review that they must already have decided on a career-enhancing ‘upgrade’ to the ISA – maybe free telephones for all detained Opposition politicians?

  3. #3 by k1980 on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 10:42 am

    Close down Kamunting centre? Sadly, this will only come about when PR takes over the Federal Govt. Until then, dream on

  4. #4 by rckk007 on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 10:51 am

    Allow me to predict an ending to this so-called ISA review.

    “After a comprehensive review, we find there is nothing wrong with the current ISA laws and it will remain as it is. Review close”.

    How many times have we seen the MACC, ACA or PDRM or AG Office or whoever in authority supposedly open a case, make a fanfare of it, and months later when things cool, quietly close the case as “no case” or “insufficient evidence”, etc. By then the media will relegate the news, if at all, into the backpages, to be forgotten forever.

  5. #5 by Godfather on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 11:03 am

    Close down Kamunting ? Najib needs permission from the Mamakthir to do that. It is one of the symbols of Mahathirism – on a par with other symbols like the NEP, Proton, Cyberjaya, Putrajaya……

  6. #6 by cintanegara on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 11:58 am

    Said Zahari holds the distinction of being the second longest-serving political detainee after Chia Thye Poh….

  7. #7 by ekompute on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 12:25 pm

    Do not abolish the ISA! It’s going to be very useful, once Anwar Ibrahim takes over in the coming election, if the R-A-H-M-A-N Prophesy is right on course. So far, the Prophesy has been very amazing. Abdullah Badawi wasn’t supposed to be in, but he did in order to fulfill the “A”, after Anwar left. And I thought Anwar was going to succeed last September, but he didn’t because the N has not been fulfilled then. Now that all the pieces are in place, God knows what next. So let’s leave the ISA as it is and let them have a taste of their own medicine before we abolish it for good.

  8. #8 by taiking on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 1:27 pm

    “The story on the start of the ISA review took on a surreal and even “Alice-in-the-Wonderland” quality when it is further reported that the Law Reform Committee’s ”first step” to undertake a “comprehensive review of the ISA” would be a briefing session on Wednesday and Thursday involving the Legal Affairs Department and the Legal Aid Bureau.

    What a laughable state of affairs! What has the “comprehensive review of the ISA” got to do with these two government agencies.”

    No No. Kit. Reviewing the ISA has everything to do with these agencies and more. Next the chairman of the reform committee – well whoever he may be – will interview the colony of toxic red ants up north (those that bit a school boy recently) to seek their views on isa protection. And after that they will issue a crucial statement to the red dot below to shut up and mind their own business. “Small dot dont deserve to speak to big patch. So shut up.” Well something like that.

    So the review will take time. Its clear isnt it? But what about dateline? That is not important. To umno, making public a general and nebulous desire to act on something is enough. And oh rest assured. It will be done finally sometime before the next election. Ah yea. That means they have something like between 1 day to 3plus years to complete the review.

    And ah yes. Review. Almost forgot this. The review will be done. But they said nothing about amending the laws on protection by ISA. In other words, they will hold the Act up in 100 different ways and positions and then view and after that review them.

  9. #9 by lee wee tak_ on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 1:35 pm

    Review is a big word. After a review, a piece of legislation can either be watered down, tighten or remain status quo. I doubt that ISA would be abolished.

    ISA encourage / allow lazy investigative work. When in doubt, apprehend and hold.

    ISA was drafted in the Emergency Era. We are no longer in that trying time hence there is no justification for it to remain other than as a tool to maintain power hold.

    To maintain your hold of power, try good governance, rather than a draconian law like ISA.

  10. #10 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 5:25 pm

    If you look at the dithering over the English for Maths and Science, I would not hope too much over this “review”.

    It is simply “too little, too late” after all the abuse of the authorities in using this anti-terrorist act to cow its ordinary citizens.
    Don’t expect any results before the next elections which would be the best time to get this law under proper control.

  11. #11 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 5:27 pm

    “..Is Najib really seriously about a “comprehensive review of the ISA” when the committee assigned this task is headed by such a political lightweight, who is only a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department?..”

    The intention is all too clear. This is just a red herring. It is similar to the original committee to determine the authenticity of the Lingam Tapes. The whole purpose is to buy time. If circumstances change while this lightweight committee is at work, it is easy to change direction. If Najib himself as a DPM needed to be appoiinted to chair a committee on an issue of lesser importance such as transport after the fuel hike in 2007( and of course nothing came of it) , it insults the intelligence of the right thinking rakyat to believe that a junior non UMNO Deputy Minister will be able to achieve any substantial results when even a Deputy Prime Minister could not achieve anything on an issue of lesser importance such as transport.

  12. #12 by frankyapp on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 5:54 pm

    The Umno/Bn leaders critizised US’s guantanamo prison camp “,saying it’s unlawful and cruel to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely without any proper trail and further said it should be closed down and let all the prisoners go free “. quote and unquote.Similarly if Umno/Bn leaders have any sense of responsibility ,credibility and integrity they should immediately close down Kumunting ISA detention camp and free all the detainees. If not,then charge them .Failing which these UmmnoBn top leaders have no credibility at all to say about others.I wish to remind these top guys that “you do not do to others what you do not like others will do to you “.

  13. #13 by lopez on Tuesday, 5 May 2009 - 8:56 pm

    Some clown informs the gomen did not cap the duration and dateline to change certain laws

    … guys better call in the kapten KPI, he has to say something…his doctorate cents ought to quickly asked for a time cap…else it is like chasing the wind…..will he asked for it , what is it for him first… to comment against his master….sucide no way

    somehow it is like the never ending story….hard luck

    wait for bus no. GE13

  14. #14 by frankyapp on Wednesday, 6 May 2009 - 2:44 am

    NR said in Kota Kinabalu yesterday that the rakyat is the judge of his KPI. What an excellent statement.So guys,get start judging and give O mark to him.

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