5 state govts back call to free ISA detainees, Guan Eng tells Makkal Sakthi crowd


No letting up: Some 3,000 Makkal Sakthi and Hindraf supporters call for release of ISA detainees

For one moment, it looked as if the general election campaign was not yet over. The orange shirts were back in numbers. A similar crowd had packed the Penang Chinese Town Hall in the run-up to the general election.

Makkal Sakthi is still alive and kicking – and the newfound sense of solidarity has not abated one bit.

But how was Hindraf, the organiser, able to get a permit so easily for this gathering? Well, I suppose it helps if your star speaker is the Penang Chief Minister! Not that permits should be required for such gatherings. A couple of uniformed cops sat in the audience, a couple more outside the hall.

Syed Ibrahim, the coordinator of the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI), gave a run-down on why the ISA had to be abolished. Also on stage was human rights lawyer Latheefa Koya. It has been a long time since I had seen such a huge crowd enthusiastically calling for the release of ISA detainees. In between, cries of Makkal Sakthi! and Valga! (Long live people power!) pierced the air.

family members arrive

Grand reception: ISA detainees’ family members enter the hall to a rousing welcome

How times have changed. If we want to look at it from a racial point of view, you had a Malay activist addressing a largely Indian crowd at the Chinese Town Hall!


The fear is gone: Young girls sign a petition calling for the release of ISA detainees as Fadiah from the GMI/Bar Council Human Rights Sub-committee beams

I don’t think I have seen so many people queuing up to sign petitions calling for the release of ISA detainees. (Some of these detainees have been held for more than six years!) Where previously people would have been afraid or reluctant to sign such petitions, tonight there was no such fear. People were distributing all sorts of anti-ISA literature. Volunteers collected donations for the ISA detainees’ families. Amazing! Surely, it can’t be too long before the ISA is totally abolished.

Crowd puller: Guan Eng is mobbed outside the hall by Makkal Sakthi and Hindraf supporters after giving the five state governments’ backing for the release of ISA detainees

It was an especially meaningful occasion for Guan Eng. Tonight was exactly 19 years to the day since he was released from ISA detention in 1989.

Guan Eng delighted the audience in the packed hall when he told them, “You are not alone in your call for the release of ISA detainees. You have five state governments backing this call and I will take this message to Parliament!” he said to loud applause. He told the crowd that the huge swing in their votes had made a big difference in the general election this time.

The entire gathering rose to their feet to cheer when a petition calling for the release of the ISA detainees was later handed over to the Chief Minister.

Later, after the event, I ran into a few pals, J, M and S, at a hawker centre. Politics was the hot topic. J wanted to take a bet (beers and kacang!) that Anwar would be Prime Minister by 1 Sept while S and M looked sceptical.

All three of them wanted the ISA abolished. But M and S said they would first like Mahathir to experience what it felt like to be unjustly detained in Kamunting and cut off from loved ones. “Just for six months and then we can abolish the ISA!” said S.

I looked at S. He was serious.

J and I, however, felt that this would be wrong. No one deserves to be detained without trial, not even Mahathir or whoever else has used this harsh and evil law. Everyone has the right to a fair trial.

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Anan Duran, by the manner of your statements you obviously have never been part of the ISA program. You should go thru it first before sending out your views. Indians in many Afrikan nations prospered. Indians are prospering in USA, Europe, Australia, Canada … u left them out and concentrated on the areas they were mistreated. Have you been to these countries and talked to these people? U arent well traveled. ISA allows a person to be detained WITHOUT TRIAL. There are other laws that allow a person to be detained WITH TRIAL. You obviously are not a lawyer. U… Read more »


Dear anan duran, Please do not use the term “we need ISA”. You are right blaming UMNO wont resolved the problems but purging them out.Yes the problems will be solved. What can you improve the condition of Indians by detained the 5 Hindraf ? Chinese prosperous not because they are in blessed or cursed country. Don’t linked the Chinese when you talk about ISA.It seems like Chinese will lost all their monies if they don’t follows your advise. Chinese have brain, sorry to inform you. Are you threatening the minority? Please bear in mind majority doesn’t like ISA. Plaese don’t… Read more »

anan duran

Abolishing ISA will not solve anybody’s problem. There are many more than the 5 Hindraf guys in ISA. Even India has tightened the POTA act. Why, there will always be guys with vested interests to undermine the country’s peace. So we need ISA. It easy for people to talk about the detainee’s children and wife situation, after being in ISA. In this blessed country, the Chinese are prospering.There are Indian workers from India who are paying 6-8k to agents come to work here to earn money. Blaming Umno/BN does not solve our Indians problem. What can we learn from the… Read more »

Grim Reaper

Firstly I believe that ISA is obsolete in its relevance in today’s world. The only reason the government would hold on to it is because they are incompetent to catch and convict a suspect. Hence, they rather impose ISA on a suspect than to gather the proper intelligence for a conviction of a crime. If you have a look at the list of detainees and the charges against them, it is all ALLEGED. Why not be open and make public the actual reason why they are detained in the first place? Are they saying that they have no proof on… Read more »

simon li

Hang Jebat, think carefully.

Do you know the meaning of “rule of law”? It means the rule of JUST AND FAIR laws. It also means that an accused person must be TOLD EXACTLY what he/she is accused of and the evidence produced in a COURT free of manipulation by the government.

Is this in line with or is this against the teachings of Islam? You can only answer honestly to yourself. May Allah guide you to the truth.

kenneth iswara

Mahathir and Samy Vellu in Kamunting together? We want to see how brave and loud-mouthed these “tyrants” are then….

hang jebat

This is why we need ISA.
to stop all this nonsense.

The biggest thread of the nation is the people who always make road demonstration, yelling at public, and gathered as many as possible in public road.

John Keadilan Borneo

Dear Anil, Although i agree with your last sentence in this blog article, I still hae some admiration for the guy who made the suggestion that Mahathir should be the LAST isa detainee. Let me say it this way… THE ONLY WAY TO CONVINCED STRONG SUPPORTERS ON RETAINING THE ISA TO CHANGE THEIR MIND IS TO LET THE DOCTOR MAHATHIR TO TASTE HIS OWN MEDICINE… hell, (Mahathir) was previously a medic doctor wasnt he? But he never check the taste of his medicine before forcing his patients to swallow them. As for me, whoever supports ISA even in the past,… Read more »


Penang should create their own city police and send the federal cops back BN states. Like we have it here ( US ). Limit the police power to patrol duties and stay out of any political gathering.

Johan Abdullah

Dear Anil,

Let me first congratulate you on your blog which in my view is the best on latest Penang-cum-national developments.

On the Hindaf 5 and ISA, would it not be a good idea for ex-detainee and Penang CM LGE to lead in a signature campaign, say to get half a million signatures, to submitted to the Abdullah govt for their release along with the demand to abolish the ISA? We should try to do this before the parliamentary debate that LGE wants to introduce soon.


I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented,at least in the field of government. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is a tyrant, and that any man who yields… Read more »


oooh yes, Tun M shud be given his own medicine first before we bring it down .

Gud to see that we have 5states now who backs the abolishment of ISA.


ISA should be gone Yet the BN government wants it to stay It is a convenient tool to silence critics Giving the lame excuse It is for national security Years of those days It had gone The communists had given up arms struggle Recognizing the rights to govern through democratic elections The BN government wants it to stay The BN leaders shall not change The people’s power must initiate it ISA must be buried for good There are many people throwing in Without trials or reasonable hearing These people are put into Kamunting Inn It is to rehabilitate souls……………? The… Read more »


Hi anil,

I have some queries about working for activist groups like Aliran. Would you be so kind as to permit email contact for a private discussion on this?


Keep the pressure on this apartheid regime. Its not 1969 to throw everyone into Klab Kemunting.

raj raman

I almost thought the Pakatan Rakyat politician forgot about the HINdraf.Well its good to hear the five new PKR goverment support their release.

Just for querries,most of the time i just hear or read DAP do champion Hindraf,but hardly or myself overlook the PAS AND KEADILAN learders strongly issue any statement about Hindraf.

This Anwar Ibrahim,act like MGR with indians during Hindraf rally,Where is he?

jeffrey chew

Anil Ever since my first visit to your blog months ago, I am glad you are continuing to write without fear or favor. It’s one of the most well balanced blogs that continue to strike my passion of the things around me. Thank you for your contribution. I have many strong thoughts of Makkal Sakti. I have kids just like kids of some of the detainees. I feel for them…and…we are all Malaysians. Seriously, I see them no threat to this country other than the ones that put them at Kamunting. We must continue to speak for them. Were there… Read more »


ISA should not be abolished just that! Wait till PR at helm forming Federal Govt. and take those UMNOputras in Kamunting, otherwisethey will never regret what they did to others and their love ones.

Tun M should be given the honour to be priority visitor
in Kamunting and the first ISA detainee under PR led govt.

raj raman

As far i concern politician like orang minyak,not snake ( pity the snake,human see the snake kill them ).

Thanks for your support jughead.
Pardon me to say this anil in your blogs.




I concur with you. DAP seems to be most vocal whereas other PR parties seems to be quiet. Tian Chua’s Batu has a number of Indians and Eli Wong NGO on Human Rights voice are very soft on Hindraf under ISA


Hear you loud and clear.May not be vocal but you have my full support and backing for their release. Just add to your list.

J. D. Lovrenciear

The nation is bleeding away its resources, time,energy and effort in attempting to get the powers that be to do away with ISA.

Meanwhile the power brokers will fight tooth and nail to keep it. Afterall, the lessons learnt from the corridors of undemocratic power and control reinforce this believe in the minds and hearts of our local politicians.

Perhaps only a people’s (mobilisation) of sorts can bring down the ISA practice like a highland towers episode — minus innocent victims of course.

andrew hoo

Hi Anil,

Thanks for this article ! We really need ” fresh ” news other than the standard news from ” MSMs'” dish out to us in line with their master’s wishes.

If we don’t read the daily news from the MSMs’, we are uninformed and if we do read them, we are illinformed !!!

So, better not read them and save some ” cents ” to have more sense then to be mislead and misguided.


I was very touched to see so much support for the 5 Hindraf detainees at the PCTH forum. Unfortunately, only a handful of non-Indians were there. We need to keep reminding everyone that there are still 60+ detainees apart from these Hindraf 5. Pls continue with the pressure on the Govt to free tham all and abolish the ISA altogether.


All the ISA detainess should be released without any condition attached immediately and ISA should be abolished AFTER we sent some of these BN leaders under ISA arrest such as Khir Toyo,Hishamuddin, Nazri, KJ and of course Dr.M, agreed should let him taste the life there.Waiting for PRM to form the Federal Goverment soonest possible.