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What the SMH also has missed is the fact that two of the laws that are purportedly being repealed are merely being replaced by two other differently-worded laws but with potentially same consequences.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