Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Zaid urges PM to repeal ISA in open letter

Zaid urges PM to repeal ISA in open letter
By SHAILA KOSHY

KUALA LUMPUR: The continued arbitrary use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) in the face of public sentiment gives the impression that the Government is oppressive, and the ISA an instrument of oppression.

“Its continued use does not bode well for a society that is struggling to find its place in the global arena. It does not bode well for the democracy that is so vital for us to develop sustainably,” said Senator Datuk Zaid Ibrahim yesterday in an open letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“Mr Prime Minister, I remember clearly what you once said; that if one has the opportunity to do what is good and right for the country, then one must take on the task.”

Recording his respect for Abdullah, Zaid said he would have remained on his team if he were confident he would have been able to do some good for Malaysia.

“Sir, you are still the Prime Minister and you still have the opportunity to leave your footprint in Malaysian history. I urge you to do so by repealing the ISA once and for all.

“Let us attempt to fulfil that solemn promise made by our beloved first Prime Minister to the people of this country.”

Reviewing the use of the ISA in the last three weeks, Zaid said it led to the conclusion the Government had time and time again failed Malaysians in repeatedly reneging on that solemn promise made by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

“Regrettably, Tunku Abdul Rahman himself reneged on his promise. In 1965, his administration detained Burhanuddin Helmi, the truly towering Malay intellectual, a nationalist who happened to be a PAS leader. He was kept in detention until his death in 1969,” Zaid added.

“The only thing that is certain about that period was that Umno was facing a leadership crisis. Isn’t it coincidental that the recent spate of ISA arrests occurred when Umno is again having a leadership crisis?”

Noting there were those who advocated a carte-blanche reading of the ISA, he cautioned: “They will seek to persuade you that the interests of the country demand that such power be retained, that Malaysians owe their peace and stability to laws such as the ISA.

“This overlooks the simple truth that Malaysians of all races cherish peace. We lived together harmoniously in the last 400 years, not because of these laws but in spite of them.”

He said Malaysians today wanted a Govern?ment committed to the court process to determine guilt or innocence.

He said the public were less willing to believe today that the Home Affairs Minister knows best about national security.

“Any doubts as to the continued relevance of the ISA in its present form should have been put to rest by the recommendation by national human rights commission Suhakam that the ISA be repealed and an anti-terror legislation suited to the times enacted in its place.”

»We lived together harmoniously in the last 400 years not because of these laws but in spite of them« DATUK ZAID IBRAHIM

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/10/1/nation/2161211&sec=nation

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