The speech that wasn’t delivered

Friday, 06 August 2010 21:05

(P Ramakrishnan was supposed to deliver this address at an anti-ISA vigil in Penang on 1 August 2010, but before he could speak, four activists were arrested and police dispersed the crowd.)

50 years of ISA – Enough is enough!

This is our 53rd year of independence. But for 50 years, that independence has been marred and rendered meaningless by the continued existence of the ISA. It has been used and abused to silence critics and put away dissidents. It is an instrument that threatens our freedom and our civil liberties. It creates a climate of fear.

That is why the indomitable D R Seenivasagam called the ISA “a vicious and repulsive document, a document which is repulsive to all those who believe in democracy.”

He found it “difficult to believe any citizen of this country could have drafted this Bill if he has the interests of his fellow citizens at heart”.

He was right there. The ISA did not serve the interests of the citizens; it only served the interests of those in power.

Under the guise of national security, the ISA has been turned into a political tool to serve the ruling elite to remain in power. Any time and every time the Barisan Nasional was in a fix, it resorted to the ISA to safeguard and entrench its position.

Some 10,000 innocent people have fallen prey to this obnoxious legislation. Without any justification, they have been detained unfairly and unjustly.

Not a single one of them has been charged or convicted in a court of law. They were not brought to court simply because the government had no specific and legitimate charges against them, and their flimsy reasons for detaining them would not have stood up in a court of law.

That is why the court’s jurisdiction to review or challenge their detention has been ousted. The Minister’s decision cannot be challenged in any court of law.

The Minister’s decision is final. End of the matter. That is wrong.

And the Minister has that absolute undemocratic right to extend a detainee’s detention every two years indefinitely. That is wrong.

The detainee can periodically appear before the Advisory Board to state his or her case. Very often it is a waste of time. The Advisory Board that hears a detainee’s representation can only make recommendations to the Home Minister which he usually brushes aside. That is wrong.

Friends: It is a mockery to have a law that does not provide for your defence in a court of law in keeping with natural justice.

It is a mockery to the rule of law when a detained person has no legal access to a lawyer.

It is a mockery to our democratic system when a person can be held in solitary confinement for up to 60 days without family visitation rights whatsoever.

It is a mockery to us as human beings that this terrible law has been allowed to be around for half a century.

Friend, don’t waste your time asking for the repeal of the ISA. It won’t happen. It is the armour that protects the BN. The BN will never throw away this protective shield. The BN will not repeal the ISA. Let’s accept that as a fact.

The only way to remove the ISA is to remove the BN from power. The moment you remove the BN, the ISA will disappear. As long as the BN exists, the ISA will exist.

We should target the BN and channel our energies for the defeat of the BN. When the BN becomes the Opposition in Malaysia, that day will spell the end of the ISA.

Our slogan should be “Remove the BN” – not “Repeal the ISA”.

P Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran

  1. #1 by k1980 on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 1:02 pm

    Those who voted for BN in the 12th GE are indirectly responsible for the continued existence of the isa. The blood is on their hands, though they may choose to wash it away, as Pontius Pilate did.

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 1:14 pm

    Just 4 d last sentence n slogan, d above speech MUST not b allowed 2 b delivered

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 2:42 pm

    Whether repeal or amend – whatever – the incontrovertible fact is that something has to be done to ISA to ensure that its draconian powers are not abused, and human/civil/constitutional rights of citizens trampled!

    One has to look firstly the historical and constitutional background and context of ISA and secondly the track record of its application till to date.

    Regarding the First aspect: The Constitution guarantees us rights like personal liberty, right to legal counsel, freedom of movement, freedom of speech and assembly under articles 5, 9 & 10 respectively.

    However these fundamental constitutionally guaranteed freedoms are all abridged, curtailed and abrogated by article 149. Basically Article 149 says and was intended by framers of constitution to say that whilst freedoms are important – and hence guaranteed – they must, weighing pros and cons, give way to overarching greater importance of national security and the elimination of subversion. The Internal Security Act just like the other draconian legislations with the tag “essential’ – ie Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance, Essential (security cases) Regulations etc are all derived from the constitutional authority of article 149 of the Federal Constitution.

    The main draconian features of these legislations is that the Executive/Government (represented by the Home Minister) and the security apparatus of police have all the powers – the latter to investigate, give findings within 60 days of detention to the Minister who then makes the final detention order for detainee to go to Kamunting, and there to stay for a year, renewable unless earlier release due to Advisory Board’s recommendation pursuant to their ½ yearly review. The worst part is that it is settled law that unless there are procedural defects on ISA detention our courts will not review the Minister’s decision and it is left to his “good judgment” having regard to findings of police and other evidences that he does not have to disclose – all in the name of national security to the individual insecurity and peril!

    This parent article 149 from which was emanated the ISA was promulgated when the country was in the state of emergency from 1948-1957. Post independence, except for short period of 1960-1964 during Indonesian Konfrontasi and aftermath of May 13, the country has been peaceful. The original threat of Communist subversion that justified the article 149 and ISA is no more when Chin Peng & Gang signed Bangkok Accord on 24/12/1989 and laid down arms. [In fact Chin Peng had turned pussycat and been trying hard to apply for return and MyKad without avail!]

    So where’s the subversion? In the aftermath of Sept 11, KMM or Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) cells? Neither KMM nor JII has bombed any parts here, more interested to use here as launching pad to bomb Bali or elsewhere. Anyway we still have the other draconian legislations with the “tag” ‘essential that can put them away or the Restricted Residence Ordinance that our highly efficient SB had used in the 1970s & 80s to “buang negeri” all the Triads….If one ones to retain ISA to contain terrorism, fine, amend the ISA to curb excessive discretionary powers of authorities and define clearly the intent and draconian powers of ISA is to specifically counter terrorism like the US’s Patriot Act or UK’s Terrorism Act, and then define exhaustively what constitutes terrorism and what does not.

  4. #4 by monsterball on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 3:16 pm

    aiya….ISA was meant to arrest communists at random…..and today..ISA is cunningly used to arrest all speaking against a corrupt government.
    This is a sick subject that all Malaysians know..UMNO B are dictatorial and bullies…to create fear … tensions .uneasiness…and anything more…so that voters will focus on peace and harmony and vote for UMNO B…since knowing police and laws are all made and controlled by them…sort of….keep the Dictator happy…and all will live in peace.
    Through out history…Dictators and corrupted government must fall…and the time is right for UMNO B to fall.
    Najib knows that he can never be an elected hold onto be UMNO B PM…as long as he can….making deals and planning how to make Malaysians afraid….very afraid…over this and that…and to vote Najib in…to protect all.
    And why not…he declared he is People’s PM too…with no balls to seek people’s support like previous PMs.

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 3:19 pm

    The second issue to be addressed is the track record of the ISA. It is dismal. A few illustrations here will be apt.

    Against backdrop of Dr Mahathir and Razaleigh tussel for UMNO presidency the Mahathir Adiministration unleashed “Operation Lalang” by using the ISA to arrest and detain without trial 106 including Opposition Leader (Kit, Karpal etc) civil servants advocates and critics religious leaders……How many of these were threats to the nation? They were not even proven threats to the position of the incumbent. It’s more like a milieu of fear to frighten political opponent.

    ISA’s net changed from subversion or national security to something else – some kind of convenient and expedient catch all legislation to remove any inconvenient pest of fly to the powers that be.

    It soon extended from subversion to even sexual immorality or sodomy as when both Anwar and his associate Dr Munawar Aness both incarcerated awhile in 1988 under ISA.

    Then from persons of sexual immorality, it went further to cast its net wider on persons accused of religious deviance – Yeshua Jamaluddin, detained ostensibly in 1988 for being a Malay Christian Convert.

    After that even better – in 2008 Home Minister detained Sin Chew Daily’s reporter (Tan Hoon Cheng) for her own safety as the police believed her life was “under threat”. Teresa Kok and RPK remained in detention a little longer and then released.

    Surely these cases do not make a good argument justify the Courts hiding behind the Minister’s decision and not subjecting his exercise of discretion and judgment to judicial review.

    Even the present Minister of Home Affairs was caught off guard when he commented to reporters of his regrets regarding the actions of his predecessor’s judgment with regard the ‘Allah’ issue and the ban of its use.

    So can we leave the fate of a detainee deprived off legal counsel to the ‘good judgment’ of the Minister in charge or the ‘professionalism’ of investigators and security apparatus after the Teoh Beng Hock’s mysterious demise in MACC’s precincts or allegations of torture by Tharmendran accused of stealing jet engines which allegations appear convincing in that he now has one witness and earlier preferred to go back to remand in Sungai buloh than to risk being abducted?

    Cumulatively, if you look at the history of the original intent of ISA in my preceding posting and then its track record in this one, what is there to defend in respect of the perpetuation of ISA in its present draconian form with its application discredited and ridiculed?

    Unless one wants to retain but amend ISA to remove abuses of power above outlined.

    Ramasamy concluded, “The only way to remove the ISA is to remove the BN from power”. This assumes if Pakatan Rakyat (PR) wins power it will repeal the ISA.

    However has PR in any of its manifestos made explicit its commitment to the rakyat to repeal the ISA in this respect?

  6. #6 by boh-liao on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 3:30 pm

    Don’t forget d soft n merciful aspect of ISA – 2 lock up a person 4 dat person’s personal safety (otherwise, who knows, in d big bad outside world, dat person may be lynched by an emotionally charged mob)
    So, thank heaven 4 d considerate UmnoB/BN 4 keeping d ISA

  7. #7 by monsterball on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 4:30 pm

    boh-liao seems to love laws made by UMNO B and not laws to protect citizens lawfully.
    Every country have their crime problems and much worst than in Malaysia too.
    But our country of 27 million and so much money can have a system that can stamp our crimes..if the govt. trully cares.
    When you have a Govt. that encourages corruptions and race politics…I hope boh-liao understands ROOT CAUSE and how to solve it…by voting UMNO B out and let others try to do better.
    A disunted country is a havoc country and UMNO B loves to rojak out country…and you mean boh-liao does not know that?
    Well then…if he/she is that and learn more before talking cock.

  8. #8 by monsterball on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 4:38 pm

    Yip…Mel_a_yu…cintanegara…chengho and boh-lioa.
    5 Najib’s apple polisher here.
    Who else?
    You must know your enemies well to fight FOR change in government.
    One or two braggarts …trying to teach others..can also spoil our mission.

  9. #9 by habis on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 6:07 pm

    The ISA was enacted to protect our country from subversive elements like the communists But the BN govt had brutally misused this Act to suppress political foes by locking them up without trial or prosecution in a court of law.The past record of the Govt is proof of the evil intention to retain the ISA and ensure that BN will continue to hold tight to political power in this country and plunder the weath of our motherland UNLESS the rakyat rise up with one voice and vote out the corrupt BN govt in the 13GE which will put to an end to all oppressive laws like the OSA ,Printing Act etc.

  10. #10 by boh-liao on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 7:20 pm

    Ha, ha, ha, ha …….
    A wise man once said, if 1 is bodoh & does not understand what others r saying n keeps 1’s mouth shut, no one knows dat
    However, if 1 is bodoh & does not understand what others r saying BUT opened 1’s mouth, 1 just confirmed 2 d whole world dat 1 is what 1 is
    Ha, ha, ha, ha ……. how wise d wise man is

  11. #11 by monsterball on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 11:03 pm

    wa boh-liao is soooooooo wise.
    hi…boh-liao…go and read all your wise comments.
    “1 just confirmed 2 d whole world dat 1 is what is”…boh-liao
    What comment is that?
    your “ha,ha,ha,ha”.. is full of sh…it….self appointed wise one.
    Me…monsterball…..100 times wiser that you boh-liao egghead.

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Monday, 9 August 2010 - 11:49 pm

    Another wise man once said: Siapa Makan Cili, Dia Rasa Pedas

  13. #13 by raven77 on Tuesday, 10 August 2010 - 1:55 am

    I have to disagree..

    When the PR comes to power we need the ISA for at least a year…that is probably how long we need to round up all the BN crooks while lining them up for trial…without the ISA they will jet off…

    Remember what the US had to do when they walked into Iraq…without their guns they would never have able to round up crooks like Chemical Ali…

    We will need the ISA until the country is rid of all these BN judges, teachers, politicians, civil servants, AG, etc…we cannot allow them the time to cabut. The PR will need to move fast when they come to power in 2013.

  14. #14 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 10 August 2010 - 2:40 am

    Will we need 2 design a deck of cards of 55 most-wanted corrupt BN kakis 2 prevent them fr slipping through d ISA net?
    Who’s d ace of spade?

  15. #15 by undertaker888 on Tuesday, 10 August 2010 - 8:54 am

    ///Don’t forget d soft n merciful aspect of ISA – 2 lock up a person 4 dat person’s personal safety (otherwise, who knows, in d big bad outside world, dat person may be lynched by an emotionally charged mob)
    So, thank heaven 4 d considerate UmnoB/BN 4 keeping d ISA//// bohliao

    that’s a good sarcasm.

  16. #16 by monsterball on Tuesday, 10 August 2010 - 9:31 am

    Did not anyone read PR will immediately throw ISA away….once they come into power?
    Wise man say this …say that?
    Why thousands of wise men…including Confucius who said…
    “When you speak of wisdom….make sure you are wise too”
    ooop not Confucius.
    It’s mime own saying!!……hahahahahahaha

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