More support for ISA, says Singapore minister

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PETALING JAYA: More Singaporeans support the Internal Security Act (ISA) than in years past, Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said yesterday, TODAY Online reported.

Asked about a possible shift in the island republic towards more liberal values and greater recognition of human rights that could lead to the law being repealed, Shanmugam said the mood in the country had moved towards stricter enforcement in recent years.

“I believe support for the ISA, if anything, has increased. I think the pendulum on the ISA has swung the other way, in that I think there’s substantial support.

“The fact that our population is highly educated and very aware of what’s happening and know that any abuse of the Act would immediately lead to consequences by the population,” Shanmugam was quoted as saying by the daily.

He added that Singapore’s use of the ISA over the past two years has not raised any objections among social activists and groups who had been against its use in the past.

Shanmugam was speaking at a dialogue organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Political Science Alumni Association and security services firm TwinRock Global.

In recent years, the ISA, which provides for detention without trial, has been used to detain Singaporeans who support the Islamic State as well as those trying to leave the country to fight in Syria.

Malaysia had repealed the ISA, which was similar in enactment to that used in Singapore, in 2011.

It was part of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s pledge to implement various reforms in federal legislation, which included the repeal of three Emergency Proclamations.

This led to the abolition of the Emergency Ordinance, that is the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1971, the Banishment Act 1959 and the Restricted Residence Act 1933.

The call to abolish the ISA in Malaysia came after it was said to have been abused with opposition party leaders, NGO members and even journailsts being detained under the act.

The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) was implemented in June 2012, aimed at maintaining public order and security after the abolition of the ISA.

In 2012, Najib had also promised to repeal the Sedition Act but he has yet to do so.