The year 2011 will be remembered for the decision to do away with the ISA – a move which vindicates the half-century long struggle against this oppressive law.
But we need to be especially vigilant about what kind of laws will eventually replace the ISA. No to detention without trial.
Prime Minister Najib Razak’s announcement on 15 September 2011, on the eve of Malaysia Day, that the government would repeal the Internal Security Act (ISA) and lift the proclamations of Emergency removed a heavy mill-stone that has weighed down on the nation’s psyche.
Despite the long delay before the actual repeal (supposedly in March 2011), the announcement vindicates the long struggle by ordinary Malaysians to rid the nation of this obnoxious detention without trial law.
The dumping of the ISA would be testimony to the strength of People Power for over half a century. A droplet of discontent grew into a stream and then a raging river which flowed into a sea of protest, the biggest of which was the Abolish ISA rally in 2009.
Even when the peninsula achieved Independence in 1957, we were not fully liberated. The Emergency Regulations Ordinance, introduced in 1948 remained in force. Introduced by the British High Commissioner Edward Gent, the Ordinance was anything but gentlemanly. It allowed for detentions not exceeding one year. Not only suspected communists, but thousands of nationalists including Malay political activists outside the Umno fold such as Ahmad Boestamam and Pak Sako were detained without trial.
Full article in Aliran Monthly.