[TheNutGraph.com] The BN and the ISA - Why amendments are not good enough?
ACADEMIC and activist Dr Kua Kia Soong was arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) during 1987's Operation Lalang. Upon his release, he wrote about his experiences in detention in his bestselling book, 445 Days under Operation Lalang. The book's third edition is going to print soon and will be available in bookshops and from human rights organisation Suaram.
Kua, the former opposition Member of Parliament (MP) for Petaling Jaya, has been monitoring detention without trial in Malaysia since his student days in the seventies. This, plus his own personal experience of being detained without trial, are what convinces him of the need for the ISA to be abolished, not just reviewed.
In this exclusive 15 March 2010 e-mail interview, Kua shares his responses on the Barisan Nasional (BN)'s anticipated parliamentary amendments to the ISA.
TNG: In the preface to your book's upcoming third edition, you list the BN government's previous overtures to amend the ISA, which did not materialise. If the BN tables the amendments during this parliamentary sitting, would it be the closest it has ever come to reviewing the ISA?
Dr Kua Kia Soong: Yes, from my monitoring of the BN all these years, this is the furthest the BN government has ever come to reviewing the ISA. Despite previous attempts at appeasing the peoples' protest, they have failed to do so.
I think this time around, after the first tight slap in the face for the BN at the 8 March 2008 general election, the BN has to take the peoples' wishes more seriously. The marvel is the BN government has got away with [this] law, which is an affront to human rights, all these years when the country has been at peace after the Emergency ended in 1960.
But certainly, (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak) is trying hard to legitimise his rule and shore up the country's reputation as a democratic country that respects human rights. Malaysia is also trying hard to get a seat in the (United Nations) Human Rights Council. We will be made a laughing stock if we still have the ISA when the time comes since such a law is right up the street of banana republics.
"The BN's latest trick is to amend this law and not abolish it."
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