Sunday, March 16, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Should Internal Security Act detainee M. Manoharan, who won a state seat in Selangor, be sworn in as soon as possible?

While Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is of the opinion that the swearing-in of the Kota Alam Shah state assemblyman could wait, the Bar Council begs to differ.

There appears to be a precedent in the matter when two ISA detainees took their oath in the Kamunting detention camp in 1978.

Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit, who won the Batu Gajah and Sungai Besi parliamentary seats respectively on a DAP ticket, did so in the presence of the speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Tan Sri Dr Syed Nasir Ismail, the secretary of the Dewan Rakyat and camp authorities.

Khalid said there was no urgency as Manoharan had not been picked as a state executive councillor. He said the oath-taking could wait until after Manoharan's release. "For now, there is nothing we can do. His detention is a political issue."

On the ISA, he said the opposition at the federal level would seek its repeal in parliament soon.

Bar Council vice-president Ragunath Kesavan said the federal government was duty-bound to allow Manoharan to be sworn in as he was an elected representative. "The power to allow Manoharan to be sworn in as the wakil rakyat lies with the internal security minister.

Chian, 68, who was detained under the ISA in November 1976, said the DAP picked him to stand in the Batu Gajah seat in 1978."I won by a majority of more than 6,000 votes against the MCA candidate," he said.

Chian, who was released in July 1981, went on to contest the Tanjung parliamentary seat in Penang but lost to former Penang chief minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon.

He soldiered on and contested in the Bukit Mertajam parliamentary constituency in 1986, winning it and retaining it in 1990 before quitting politics in 1995. On his swearing-in, Chian said the camp authorities informed him a few days earlier that it would take place at the camp.

"It was a very meaningful event. Even though the whole process was short, it made my detention less painful," he said.


seals: if the minister says now, then he should be given a trial in court.

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