ISA was never abused when I was PM, says Mahathir

PH chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad says coalition will repeal Anti-Fake News Act, Sedition Act, the NSC Act and redelineation exercise.

PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that any draconian laws that may have existed when he was prime minister, between 1981 and 2003, were never abused.

The Pakatan Harapan chairman said this when responding to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said who said yesterday the new Anti-Fake News Act was unlike the Internal Security Act (ISA), where the powers rested with a minister.

“Under the ISA, an emergency declaration is made by the king. Under ISA, people can be detained for two years with a review every six months.

“There was also no abuse of the law,” Mahathir said in explaining why as PM, he didn’t see the need to abolish the ISA and the Sedition Act.

He then turned the tables on Azalina, asking her to compare the now-repealed ISA with the National Security Council (NSC) Act passed in 2016, to understand which was more draconian.

He said under the NSC, it is the prime minister, and not the king, who can declare security areas and detain anyone without trial.

“Also, if someone dies (under NSC Act), there is no inquest. We won’t know why that person died.

“That is worse than the ISA,” he told reporters after attending the Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting at the Parliament building today.

He added that previously, under the ISA, there was nothing to stop a post-mortem from being carried out on a detainee who died.

Mahathir then reiterated his earlier comments on the action that will be taken by PH should it win the 14th general election and take over Putrajaya.

“Other than abolishing the Sedition Act, NSC and the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA), PH will also repeal the Anti-Fake News Act and the redelineation exercise passed in the Dewan Rakyat last week,” he said.