Call on Abdullah to give a serious undertaking that Cabinet would study the Suhakam ISA review recommendations and submit a report to Parliament for debate in June

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said in Jertih yesterday that the government would study the Suhakam's report on the "Review of the Internal Security Act 1960" and recommendations for the repeal of the ISA and interim ISA reforms until the enactment of a comprehensive human rights-sensitive national security law.

Abdullah should give a serious undertaking that the Cabinet would study the Suhakam ISA review recommendations and submit a report of the Cabinet position at the next meeting of Parliament in June for debate, and that he was not engaged in a P.R. exercise to give a diplomatic answer on the Suhakam report on the ISA, to be forgotten or ignored subsequently.

Malaysians do not want to see a repetition of Abdullah's empty undertaking four years ago on the occasion of the 1999 World Press Freedom Day to give "serious consideration" to Malaysian journalists when accepting their memorandum calling for a repeal of the Printing Presses and Publications Act and other repressive laws fettering the development of a free and responsible press.

A fifth World Press Freedom Day is less than a month away but Abdullah has given no signs to fulfil his promise to Malaysian journalists four years ago to give "serious consideration" to the memorandum by a thousand Malaysian journalists for a free and responsible press..

There is no reason why a Cabinet Committee cannot be established at the Cabinet meeting next Wednesday, tasked with the responsibility to complete recommendations on the Suhakam ISA review report within a two-month time-frame to allow the Cabinet to present a report for debate by Parliament at its next meeting in June.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, had admitted that a lot of work had been done already in this direction, as the Cabinet had directed him to evaluate the ISA and all security and public order laws two years ago, which he had abandoned after the Al-Ma'unah and KMM developments.

As Rais has said that the Suhakam's ISA review report and recommendations are "timely", he would be failing his duty as the de-facto law minister if he fails to act in a "timely" manner to get the Cabinet to act on the Suhakam report - especially as he had himself done a masterly study of the ISA which has been published in a book entitled "Freedom Under Executive Power in Malaysia".


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman