September 19, 2011
More Repressive Laws will replace the draconian ISA, warns Malaysia’s Opposition Leader
by Hafiz Yatim
Sep 19, 11
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is of the view that Malaysians are mature enough not to overrate the intended abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other laws that restrict civil and political liberties.
Anwar (left) said he expects the two laws that will replace the ISA to be just as restrictive, if not more stringent, than the version in use.
“I am certain (the) announcement is directed at winning the hearts of some Malaysians. However, I am certain they are not too naïve to consider this as sweeping reforms. I believe the rakyat will not be easily duped (into looking) at (premier) Najib (Abdul Razak’s) Apco-drafted statement and feel good.
“Two questions come to mind: When will the ISA be repealed? And what are the two laws which, according to inside UMNO information, will be just as strict and restrictive in replacing the ISA?
“How can UMNO do away with restrictive laws when, just last month, it had hailed and defended the ISA? (Now,) following the announcement, you find editorials commending its (planned) removal.”
Anwar said it must be remembered that the ISA was used to maintain Malay sovereignty and protect UMNO’s position in the government.He further asked do you all feel a sense of change with Thursday’s announcement as the ISA is still being viewed among UMNO circles to be critical for Malay rule, maintain its survival and Malay interests?
“However, now they see (its proposed removal) as a brilliant decision and a forward-looking decision made by Najib which saw editorials praising it.
“There are some professors coming up with heaps of praise without even asking what do you (Najib) mean, when are you going to abolish it, when are you going to present the new legislation, what are the main ingredients of the law and does it still restrict freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of movement etc?”
Reform may not go down well in UMNO
Anwar warned that the proposed reform may not go smoothly within UMNO circles because the party had its own motives for continuing on with the ISA so as to keep its role regarding ‘Malay survival’.
“For us, Najib has only given his categorical assurance that we (the BN government) will still be tough and will still have equivalent laws (as restrictive) as the ISA,” he said.
“This shows Pakatan’s pressure on the ISA for it to be abolished and repealed is successful. But we have to continue to view it sceptically as had been seen throughout history,” the Opposition Leader and Permatang Pauh MP pointed out.
The mainstream and government-controlled media, Anwar said, will continue to play on the issue of the reforms and the pronouncement as being something very positive. He said the UMNO-controlled media had done so in the early 1980s where former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had painted a picture that there were democratic reforms and positive changes.
“However, what he (Mahathir) has done is he had destroyed the instruments of the government, there was separation of powers. I saw this as I was also there. I am confident the people will view the announcement made by Najib sceptically.
“There will be hype by the media of it being liberal and democratic. However, in the end the people can judge for themselves on the reforms proposed.”
Changes will not derail Pakatan preparations
When asked to comment whether such an announcement by Najib on Thursday would derail Pakatan Rakyat’s preparation plans, Anwar said it does not have any effect as the opposition is in the final stages of preparations, and the public are mature enough to evaluate these promises.
“It would not affect Pakatan Rakyat’s preparations as in Penang, Kedah and Perak all the party machinery have been mobilised and are ever ready to work together,” he said.
Anwar, who is also the PKR de facto leader, admitted there are some grouses especially in Johor, but he advised that Pakatan Rakyat should be allowed to work it out within the members of its coalition.
He said Pakatan has an understanding between himself, (PAS president) Abdul Hadi Awang and DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang. “We will need to look after our joint interests. From feedback gathered in Kedah (during my visit recently) they want a change of the old (against UMNO). They are hoping for change and we will try and accommodate this. Please channel your grouses via the proper party channels.”
“As to discussions in Sabah and Sarawak, negotiations are going well with SAPP in Sabah but with SNAP we have yet to gain any feedback. I suspect due to the recent Sarawak polls it is difficult for us to work together with SNAP,” he said.
SNAP had initially worked together with PKR before pulling out and contesting against PKR in some seats.