Friday, 16 September 2011

Are They Really Listening When It Comes To Oppressive Laws?

Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch once said, "It’s a fallacy to suggest Malaysia needs laws that violate basic rights in order to maintain a peaceful and harmonious society. Malaysians have time and again proven themselves capable of exercising the basic democratic rights to which they are entitled. It’s time their government listened."

For Hari Malaysia today, the PM Najib promised to "abolish" or "repeal" the Internal Security Act (ISA). The question is, was he listening to the citizens he serves?

Now the ISA is the most popular of Malaysia's draconian laws. Most of the detainees are high profile politicians and other opponents of the government, along with a sprinkle of genuine terrorists.

While the ISA may not be used anymore, nothing has been said about the Emergency Ordinance which has been abused far more than any other law.

It took at least 2 weeks of candlelight vigils around Kuala Lumpur to get the government's attention. The PSM6 were in custody for over a month.

To begin with, Najib's promises are not something I take very seriously. I believe this is basically posturing for the international scene. After all, the Sydney Morning Herald appears to have bought his claims in Malaysia to abandon its harshest laws.

What the SMH also has missed is the fact that two of the laws that are purportedly being repealed are merely being replaced by two other differently-worded laws but with potentially same consequences.

So did we really gain our basic democratic rights? Has the government listened?


Antares said...

The Umno cabal listens only to the Special Branch - and, obviously, they have been advised to appear more conciliatory or be completely obliterated. Well, appearances don't mean anything has changed... but at least it's useful feedback to know their days are numbered. They're just grabbing whatever they can before they're faced with prosecution and jail - or forced to flee the country.

walla said...

Nazri explained the repeal of the ISA was already mentioned by Najib two years ago. He then explained that two new laws - antiterrorism and public order - would now be studied based on US and UK models - for release next year to replace the ISA.

The question is this: if you had really wanted to repeal the ISA, why did it have to take two years? And if it really took two years, what were you doing to study the two laws to replace it during the time you took to come to this decision to replace it?

Therefore, this decision to repeal the ISA was only acted upon in haste recently. It is thus an election gimmick.

This post, for all the bloggers who have been championing the cancellation of the ISA.

This post, also for Najib Tun Razak, son of the father who in parliament many moons ago declared that the ISA was only to be used for one specific purpose then. Ta'kan the son didn't know what the father in the same position had said. To therefore do it so late and solely for another purpose is hardly statesman-like.

jugular said...

I'm always suspicious when politicians semmingly want to give away some of the tools that keep them in power. Maybe Liz had a few strong words with him. ;)

The later SMH articles were a bit more circumspect

as was The Grauniad's take

Glam said...

"I wonder why Najib did what he did on the eve of Malaysia Day with those announcements? It somehow stains this special day because it reminds Malaysians that in this day and age, a country that is purportedly a parliamentary democracy is still weighed down by a slew of draconian laws that control a population who have ceased to believe in the BN government" - Excerpt from my blog at

Joshua Lopez said...


Obviously it was an overnight decision but i feel a little sense of hope at least. I see some light.