Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Emergency Ordinance

Are we in a state of emergency?

A lot has been said about the Internal Security Act - more commonly known as the ISA. It is mostly because it has been used to detain political dissenters, or those whose only crime is that they oppose the practices of the ruling coalition which calls itself our government.

But many people did not realise that we have another equally draconian law called the Emergency Ordinance.

As you've probably guessed, it was called as such because it was used during emergencies. I can think of 2 legitimate emergencies - one was the communist one in 1948 and the other was caused by the racial riots of 1969.

But did you know that out of 5 emergencies that have been declared, 4 have not been lifted yet??

That bring us back to the question: Are we in a state of emergency?

Most rational people would say that we are not. At least I would expect that foreign investors do not regard us as being under emergency.

But the problem is, the ruling coalition administration is using these laws indiscriminately. On the 1st of August 2009, Malaysians took to the streets to protest the use of ISA.

The irony is that at most, there have been 600 people held under the ISA while the reality is that over 6000 Malaysians have been detained under the EO.

Not all of them are political prisoners. Some are unfortunate enough to be caught stealing motorcycles. Others are squatters (or urban dwellers) who came from villages to make a living in the city.

In order to be able to evict them without giving due compensation, the administration puts them away by the EO. Some of them who protest the destruction of their dwellings are banished to another state using the EO as legal basis.

The EO is so draconian in that it does not allow the public or the judiciary to question its use. The legislative powers have undisputed and exclusive access to this awful bit of law.

It is a terrible situation, one that has gotten so bad because we ignored those we put into power and let them do as they wished.

We will now have to somehow work together as one people to finally be able to revoke these two nasty bits of law.

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