Najib in his maiden speech as PM tonight:
In this spirit, I would like to announce that the government has decided with immediate effect, to remove the temporary ban on TWO news publications, release 13 detainees from ISA detention, and conduct a comprehensive review of the Internal Security Act. Additional details will be announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs shortly.
Well, not quite a surprise.
As I had mentioned yesterday, Pakatan sources in Bukit Selambau were already expecting the release of ISA detainees, specifically a few Hindraf detainees except for the leader, Uthayakumar, who they felt would have to serve a longer term.
But it’s is not known if there are any Hindraf detainees among the 13 detainees that Najib said would be released.
Anyway, it’s a positive start for Najib.
Let us not forget that this is a small victory for the Malaysian public, many of whom over the last ten years have been pressuring for meaningful democratic reforms, campaigning for the release of all ISA detainees and calling for an outright repeal of the ISA.
But be cautious: this is exactly the way Mahathir started when he came into power in 1981. He released a whole bunch of ISA detainees. And then came Operasi Lalang in 1987.
The first thing that comes to mind now is: is all this a political ploy aimed at the three by-elections? And then tighten the screws later? Does that mean the remaining ISA detainees have to wait for a new PM before they can have a better hope of being released?
Note: Telekom has confirmed on a recorded message over its helpline that users will experience slow browsing for websites hosted in the US and Hong Kong. “Restoration work is in progress” is their well-worn message. Let’s see how long this takes. This slowdown will affect the downloading speed of many blogs that are hosted overseas at a crucial period ahead of the three by-elections.