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Guan Eng: Apologise to ISA detainees

 | April 16, 2012

An ex-ISA detainee himself, the Penang chief minister says the government must extend an apology, or the latest move to replace the security law will be considered 'a game of tricks'.

KUALA LUMPUR: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has demanded that the government apologise to all those detained and tortured under the Internal Security Act.

A former ISA detainee himself, the DAP leader said if the government did not do so, it would be guilty of allowing the law to live on through the newly-tabled Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012.

“Is Barisan Nasional ready to make an open apology to all the victims (who suffered) cruelty?”

“As long as BN refuses to do so, it will be difficult (for it) to find closure. It will show doubts towards the repealing of the ISA, and that this is really a game of tricks… for the ISA to continue in a different guise and form,” the Bagan MP told the Dewan Rakyat today.

He estimated that as many as 10,000 people had been detained under the ISA since its inception in 1960.

Lim was referring to the Security Offences Bill, which was first tabled in Parliament last Tuesday. Today, the Bill was presented for a second reading by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and is currently being debated by various MPs.

Once passed, the Bill would do away with the ISA, which was introduced in 1960 to battle the communist threat at the time.

However, opposition politicians had argued that the law was later misused to detain BN’s political enemies.

Today, Lim told the House how he was detained under the ISA during the infamous Operation Lalang episode in 1987, which saw over a 100 people detained under the law.

“As a former detainee, I personally know from bitter experience how the ISA can be misused. When I was detained in 1987, I was only 27-years-old and at the time, had just only become Kota Melaka MP.

“It was difficult, going through solitary confinement for 60 days, because our lives were under the hands of two police officers who could do anything they wanted to me,” he said.

Lim then accused the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill of having the remnants of the ISA.

He warned that the new law would make the public fear a government that appeared ready to misuse it for political gain.

Lim’s father, Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang, who is now DAP adviser, was also detained under the ISA in 1987.

GMI: No need for new laws

In a related development, the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI) argued that there was no need for new laws to replace the ISA.

Speaking at a press conference in Parliament this evening, GMI chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh said there were enough provisions in the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to deal with national security threats.

He added that he also agreed with Pakatan Rakyat leaders’ calls for the newly minted Securities Offences Bill to be refered to a select committee for a review.

Syed Ibrahim said the new Bill would still allow the government to detain a person for a maximum 28 days on mere suspicion which could allow abuses to take place.

He also said a detainee could be held without legal representation for a maximum 48 hours which was against the principle of justice.

“Even Israeli law only allows a person to be detained without trial for a maximum of eight days,” he added.

Syed Ibrahim also took Najib to task for heaping laurels on the ISA during his speech at the installation ceremony of the new King last week.

“The ISA had caused great injustice and suffering to the detainees and the families. Yet, the government has shown no remorse for what happened,” he said.

Also read:

Khairy slams ‘envious’ Pakatan, Anwar

Security Offences in, ISA on way out

Dr M maintains ISA still a good law


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