Government might as well dissolve the ISA
Advisory Board and Suhakam as redundant and anachronisms if it is not
prepared to end its cavalier attitude towards them and give serious
consideration to their recommendations
by Lim Kit Siang
For the first time, the government has publicly admitted that it has
rejected the Internal Security Act (ISA) Advisory Board recommendations for
the release of the five reformasi activists, Tian Chua, Saari Sungib, Lokman
Noor Adam, Dr Badrul Amin and Hishamuddin Rais.
Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin said during question time in
Parliament yesterday that the government was not bound by the proposals made
either by the Advisory Board or the Malaysian Human Rights Commission
(Suhakam) on ISA detentions.
Zainal claimed that the government is responsible for upholding the
country's peace and security and "the rights of the majority are more
important than the rights of the indivuals or groups who act against the
country's laws and regulations".
These are rubbishy arguments that cannot stand rational scrutiny or debate
as well as most offensive as if suggesting those who disagree with the
government want to see the ruin of the country and the collapse of law and
Is Zainal imputing that the ISA Advisory Board, which is created by Article
151 of the Malaysian Constitution and appointed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong
to review the Home Ministers' exercise of detention-without-trial powers,
has become a "subversive" organization whenever it recommends the release of
an ISA detainee?
Similarly, is Zainal insinuating that Suhakam, created by Parliament to
promote and protect human rights, with the Chairman and members appointed by
the Yang di Pertuan Agong, with a former Deputy Prime Minister as its first
Chairman and former Attorney-General as its second and current chairman,
would be guilty of undermining the laws of the country and advocating
absolute licence for the people disregarding "the rights of the majority"
whenever it disagrees with the government-of-the-day on any ISA detention?
If this is the closed-mind and cavalier attitude of the government towards
the ISA Advisory Board and Suhakam, treating them as redundant and
anachronisms, refusing to give serious consideration to their
recommendations, both should be closed down to end their farcical role and
save unnecessary squandering of taxpayers' money.
While the government is not bound legally and constitutionally by the
recommendations of the ISA Advisory Board and Suhakam on ISA detentions, it
has a moral and political responsibility as well as bound by the principles
of good governance not only to give serious consideration to the
recommendations of the Advisory Board and Suhakam but also be seen to have
given such serious consideration.
For this reason, Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in
his capacity as Home Minister should make a Ministerial statement in
Parliament before the end of its current meeting on Thursday to state the
reasons for the rejection of the recommendations of the ISA Advisory Board
for the release of the reformasi five under the ISA - to set a good example
of good governance to other Ministers and all government departments.
If the government is unable to give cogent, reasonable and acceptable
reasons why it had rejected the ISA Advisory Board's recommendations, it
should release the reformasi five from ISA detention without any delay to
demonstrate its subscription to the rule of law and commitment to human
rights - especially as the reformasi five would be marking the second
anniversary of their ISA detention in a few days' time.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National