Zaid Ibrahim, former law minister writes an open letter to the Prime Minister on the ISA:
The events of the last three weeks have compelled me to review the way in which the ISA has been used. This exercise has sadly led me to the conclusion that the government has time and time again failed the people of this country in repeatedly reneging on that solemn promise made by Tunku Abdul Rahman. This has been made possible because the government and the law have mistakenly allowed the Minister of Home Affairs to detain anyone for whatever reason he thinks fit. This subjective discretion has been abused to further certain political interests.
He cited several cases where ISA had been abused. Then goes on to add:
In the same vein, the grounds advanced in support of the most recent detentions of Tan Hoon Cheng, Teresa Kok and Raja Petra Kamarudin leave much to be desired. The explanation that Tan Hoon Cheng was detained for her own safety was farcical. The suggestion that Teresa Kok had been inciting religious sentiments was unfounded as was evinced by her subsequent release.
As for Raja Petra Kamarudin, a prominent critic of the government, a perusal of his writings would show that he might have been insulting of the government and certain individuals within it. However, being critical and insulting could not in any way amount to a threat to national security. If his writings are viewed as being insulting of Islam, Muslims or the Holy Prophet (pbuh), he should instead be charged under the Penal Code and not under the ISA. In any event, he had already been charged for sedition and criminal defamation in respect of some of his statements. He had claimed trial, indicating as such his readiness and ability to defend himself. Justice would best be served by allowing him his day in court more so where, in the minds of the public, the government is in a position of conflict for having been the target of his strident criticism.
The instances cited above strongly suggest that the government is undemocratic. It is this perspective that has over the last 25-plus years led to the government seemingly detaining arbitrarily political opponents, civil society and consumer advocates, writers, businessmen, students and journalists whose crime, if it could be called that, was to have been critical of the government. How it is these individuals can be perceived as being threats to national security is beyond my comprehension. The self-evident reality is that legitimate dissent was and is quashed through the heavy-handed use of the ISA.
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