Mr. Prime Minister, read Zaid Ibrahim’s letter and act to save what is left of your 5-year Administration

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

On the eve of Eid Murbarak/Hari Lebaran, I urge you to read and understand the contents of your former Cabinet colleague Zaid Ibrahim’s letter. I cannot believe that you allowed Najib and Syed Hamid to put Raja Petra Kamaruddin under ISA and send him to Kamunting, Perak for a period of two years.

It is commonly known among bloggers especially that both Najib and Syed Hamid have personal axes to grind and Raja Petra has been giving them sleepless nights through his writings which appear on his web-blog, What I can say about someone of your stature who can condone actions that are not acceptable to Islam because it violates the principles of justice. Ramadhan and Eid Mubarak prevent me from being brutal to you.

You have violated the tenets of Islam as embodied in the Qu’ran without compunction. Yet, your media dubs you as “Mr Nice Guy”, etc. It is time you redeem yourself and act. Otherwise, the very men in UMNO who used to kiss your hand will now put a dagger in your back. I am told, through the grapevine that they are deserting you by the dime and a dozen; they are supporting Najib who is your Brutus acting on the advice of the Iago of Malaysian politics and his reactionary and conservative supporters. Najib will challenge you, mark my word, Mr. Prime Minister.

As we all celebrate the end of Ramadhan with our families, Raja Petra Kamaruddin and other ISA detainees are languishing in Kamunting. If this is not unjust and cruel, what else can it be for you as Head of Government and your Cabinet colleagues including those mute and cowardly ministers from Malaysian Chinese Association(MCA), MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) and Gerakan and others. Maybe the right word is “barbaric”. That should apply to both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Home Affairs. In addition, I would like to say this to Najib and Syed Hamid, “may you both rot in hell”. —Din Merican

Zaid Ibrahim writes open letter to PM

Sep 30, 08 1:53pm

In our proclamation of independence, our first prime minister gave voice to the lofty aspirations and dreams of the people of Malaya: that Malaya was founded on the principles of liberty and justice, and the promise that collectively we would always strive to improve the welfare and happiness of its people.


Many years have passed since that momentous occasion and those aspirations and dreams remain true and are as relevant to us today as they were then. This was made possible by a strong grasp of fundamentals in the early period of this nation.

The federal constitution and the laws made pursuant to it were well founded; they embodied the key elements of a democracy built on the rule of law. The Malaysian judiciary once commanded great respect from Malaysians and was hailed as a beacon for other nations.Our earlier prime ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn were truly leaders of integrity, patriots in their own right and most importantly, men of humility. They believed in and built this nation on the principles and values enunciated in our constitution.

tunku abdul rahmanEven when they had to enact the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, they were very cautious and apologetic about it. Tunku stated clearly that the Act was passed to deal with the communist threat.

“My cabinet colleagues and I gave a solemn promise to Parliament and the nation that the immense powers given to the government under the ISA would never be used to stifle legitimate opposition and silent lawful dissent”, was what the Tunku said.

Our third prime minister, Tun Hussein Onn, reinforced this position by saying that the ISA was not intended to repress lawful political opposition and democratic activity on the part of the citizenry.

Government has failed the people

The events of the last three weeks have compelled me to review the way in which the ISA has been used. This exercise has sadly led me to the conclusion that the government has time and time again failed the people of this country in repeatedly reneging on that solemn promise made by Tunku Abdul Rahman.

This has been made possible because the government and the law have mistakenly allowed the minister of home affairs to detain anyone for whatever reason he thinks fit. This subjective discretion has been abused to further certain political interests.

History is the great teacher and speaks volumes in this regard. Even a cursory examination of the manner in which the ISA has been used almost from its inception would reveal the extent to which its intended purpose has been subjugated to the politics of the day.

Regrettably, Tunku Abdul Rahman himself reneged on his promise. In 1965, his administration detained Burhanuddin Helmi, the truly towering Malay intellectual, a nationalist who happened to be a PAS leader. He was kept in detention until his death in 1969. Helmi was a political opponent and could by no stretch of the imagination be considered to have been involved in the armed rebellion or communism that the ISA was designed to deal with.

This detention was an aberration, a regrettable moment where politics had been permitted to trump the rule of law. It unfortunately appears to have set a precedent and many detentions of persons viewed as having been threatening to the incumbent administration followed through the years.

Even our literary giant, ‘sasterawan negara’ the late Tan Sri A Samad Ismail was subjected to the ISA in 1976. How could he have been a threat to national security?

I need not remind you of the terrible impact of the 1987 Operasi Lalang. Its spectre haunts the government as much as it does the peace-loving people of this nation, casting a gloom over all of us. There were and still are many unanswered questions about those dark hours when more than a hundred persons were detained for purportedly being threats to national security. Why they were detained has never been made clear to Malaysians.

Similarly, no explanation has been forthcoming as to why they were never charged in court. Those detainees included amongst their numbers senior opposition members of parliament who are still active in Parliament today.

The only thing that is certain about that period was that UMNO was facing a leadership crisis. Isn’t it coincidental that the recent spate of ISA arrests has occurred when UMNO is again having a leadership crisis?

‘Militant’ Ezam back in UMNO

isa distributeIn 2001, Keadilan ‘reformasi’ activists were detained in an exercise that the Federal Court declared was in bad faith and unlawful. The continued detention of those that were not released earlier in the Kamunting detention facility was made possible only by the fact that the ISA had been questionably amended in 1988 to preclude judicial review of the minister’s order to detain.

Malaysians were told that these detainees had been attempting to overthrow the government via militant means and violent demonstrations. Seven years have gone and yet no evidence in support of this assertion has been presented. Compounding the confusion even further, one of these so-called militants, Ezam Mohamad Noor, recently rejoined UMNO to great fanfare, as a prized catch it would seem.

hindraf isa detainees 290808At around the same time, members of PAS were also detained for purportedly being militant and allegedly having links to international terrorist networks. Those detained included Nik Adli, the son of Tuan Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the menteri besar of Kelantan. Malaysians were made a promise by the government that evidence of the alleged terrorist activities and links of these detainees would be disclosed. To date no such evidence has been produced.

The same formula was used in late 2007 when the Hindraf 5 were detained. Malaysians were told once again that these individuals were involved in efforts to overthrow the government and had links with the militant Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka. To date no concrete evidence have been presented to support this assertion.

It would seem therefore that the five were detained for their involvement in efforts that led to a mobilisation of Indian Malaysians to express, through peaceful means; their frustration against the way in which their community had been allowed to be marginalised. This cause has since been recognised as a legitimate one. The Hindraf demonstration is nothing extraordinary as such assemblies are universally recognised as being a legitimate means of expression.

isa 3 teresa raja petra tan hoon chengIn the same vein, the grounds advanced in support of the most recent detentions of Tan Hoon Cheng, Teresa Kok and Raja Petra Kamarudin leave much to be desired. The explanation that Tan Hoon Cheng was detained for her own safety was farcical. The suggestion that Teresa Kok had been inciting religious sentiments was unfounded as was evinced by her subsequent release.

As for Raja Petra Kamarudin, the prominent critic of the government, a perusal of his writings would show that he might have been insulting of the government and certain individuals within it.

However, being critical and insulting could not in any way amount to a threat to national security. If his writings are viewed as being insulting of Islam, Muslims or the Holy Prophet (pbuh), he should instead be charged under the Penal Code and not under the ISA.

In any event, he had already been charged for sedition and criminal defamation in respect of some of his statements. He had claimed trial, indicating as such his readiness and ability to defend himself. Justice would best be served by allowing him his day in court more so where, in the minds of the public, the government is in a position of conflict for having been the target of his strident criticism.

Law used against dissidents

The instances cited above strongly suggest that the government is undemocratic. It is this perspective that has over the last 25 plus years led to the government seemingly arbitrarily detaining political opponents, civil society and consumer advocates, writers, businessmen, students, journalists whose crime, if it could be called that, was to have been critical of the government.

How it is these individuals can be perceived as being threats to national security is beyond my comprehension. The self-evident reality is that legitimate dissent was and is quashed through the heavy-handed use of the ISA.

There are those who support and advocate this carte-blanche reading of the ISA. They will seek to persuade you that the interests of the country demand that such power be retained, that Malaysians owe their peace and stability to laws such as the ISA. This overlooks the simple truth that Malaysians of all races cherish peace. We lived together harmoniously for the last 400 years, not because of these laws but in spite of them.

I believe the people of this country are mature and intelligent enough to distinguish actions that constitute a ‘real’ threat to the country from those that threaten political interests. Malaysians have come know that the ISA is used against political opponents and, it would seem, when the leadership is under challenge either from within the ruling party or from external elements.

Malaysians today want to see a government that is committed to the court process to determine guilt or innocence even for alleged acts of incitement of racial or religious sentiment. They are less willing to believe, as they once did, that a single individual, namely the minister of home affairs; knows best about matters of national security.

They value freedom and the protection of civil liberties and this is true of people of other nations too.

I attempted to push for reform

Mr Prime Minister, the results of the last general election are clear indication that the people of Malaysia are demanding a reinstatement of the rule of law. I was appointed as your, albeit short-lived, minister in charge of legal affairs and judicial reform.

In that capacity, I came to understand more keenly how many of us want reform, not for the sake of it, but for the extent to which our institutions have been undermined by events and the impact this has had on society.

zaid ibrahim resignation from ministerial post 160908 01With your blessing, I attempted to push for reform. High on my list of priorities was a reinstatement of the inherent right of judicial review that could be enabled through a reversion of the key constitutional provision to its form prior to the controversial amendment in 1988.

I need not remind you that that constitutional amendment was prompted by the same series of events that led not only to Operasi Lalang but the sacking of the then Lord President and two supreme court justices.

Chief amongst my concerns was the way in which the jurisdiction and the power of the courts to grant remedy against unconstitutional and arbitrary action of the executive had been removed by Parliament and the extent to which this had permitted an erosion of the civil liberties of Malaysians.

It was this constitutional amendment that paved the way for the ouster provision in the ISA that virtually immunises the minister from judicial review, a provision which exemplifies the injustice the constitutional amendment of 1988 has lent itself.

I also sought to introduce means by which steps could be taken to assist the judiciary to regain the reputation for independence and competence it once had. Unfortunately, this was viewed as undesirable by some since an independent judiciary would mean that the executive would be less ‘influential’.

I attempted to do these things and more because of the realisation that Malaysia’s democratic traditions and the rule of law are under siege. Anyway, there is nothing wrong with giving everyone an independent judiciary and the opportunity to a fair trial.

This is consistent with the universal norms of human rights as it is with the tenets of Islam, the religion of the federation. Unchecked power to detain at the whim of one man is oppressiveness at its highest. Even in Israel, a nation that is perpetually at war the power to detain is not vested in one man and detention orders require endorsement from a judge.

If there are national security considerations, then these can be approached without jettisoning the safeguards intended to protect individual citizens from being penalised wrongfully. In other jurisdictions involved in armed conflicts, trials are held in camera to allow for judicial scrutiny of evidence considered too sensitive for public disclosure so as to satisfy the ends of justice.

If this can be done in these jurisdictions, why not here where the last armed struggle we saw, the very one that precipitated the need for the ISA, came to an end in the 1980s?

ISA was never intended to be permanent

Any doubts as to the continued relevance of the ISA in its present form should have been put to rest by the recommendation by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) that the ISA be repealed and an anti-terror legislation suited to the times enacted in its place. Containing as it did a sunset clause in its original times, the ISA was never intended to be a permanent feature on the Malaysian legal landscape.

Through its continued use in the manner described above and in the face of public sentiment, it is only natural that the ISA has become in the mind of the people an instrument of oppression and the government is one that lends itself to oppressiveness.

Its continued use does not bode well for a society that is struggling to find its place in the global arena. It does not bode well for the democracy that is so vital for us to develop sustainably.

abdullah ahmad badawi isa arrest with handcuffs 010604Mr Prime Minister, I remember very clearly what you once said; that if one has the opportunity to do what is good and right for the country, then he must take on the task. I respect you deeply for that and if I were confident that I would have been able to do some good for Malaysia, I would have remained on your team.

Sir, you are still the prime minister and you still have the opportunity to leave your footprint in Malaysian history. I urge you to do so by repealing the ISA once and for all.

Let us attempt to fulfil that solemn promise made by our beloved first prime minister to the people of this country.

Yours sincerely

Zaid Ibrahim

26 thoughts on “Mr. Prime Minister, read Zaid Ibrahim’s letter and act to save what is left of your 5-year Administration

  1. Dear Mr. Merican,

    I thought this could only happen under Saddam Hussein in my country. It is sad that it is happening in Malaysia. The Rule of Law is vital, if your government wants to attract long term money from beyond your shores. It is no coincidence that foreign investors including those from my part of the world are avoiding Malaysia.

    I hope Brother Anwar Ibrahim, who is known and respected by us in the Middle East ,will become Prime Minister. If he does, the sooner the better, money will start flowing to your country again. You must also do something drastic about your rampant corruption.

    Best wishes for Eid Mubarak.

  2. What a shame that we are washing dirty linen in public. It is a pity that the whole world has become aware of our internal struggles. These struggles should have been settled domestically because we Malaysians are to be a family. Now we have been put at par with Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical saga. What a Shame!!!

  3. Yes Mr Zaid Ibrahim’s letter should be considered very seriously by AAB if he wishes to remain as a respected PM and Malaysian. He is having the ball in his side of the court and how he plays it will leave a historic mark in the annals of Malaysian history. AAB should use his wisdom and not bend to the forces that be to make this vital decision. Yes PM take the advice your good ex minister for law is giving you and do not succumb to your desires and passions now. Then only you can save face and retain public confidence.

  4. Being an idiot, Abdullah knows no other way than make an ignominious exit. If he wasn’t an idiot, this country wouldn’t be in such a pathetic state today.

    Since he was willing to accept the resignation of a respectable minister rather than free RPK, how else could I describe him?

    Abdullah is and was never a nice guy. He is a scum just like Mahathir, Najib or Syed Hamid.

    He is a con-man, a charlatan and a chameleon. He even fooled Mahathir into appointing him his successor when he was suited to be a mere ketua kampong.

  5. Saudara Din,

    Firstly Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Maaf zahir batin.

    Thanks for taking the challenge for a better Malaysia. May God grant you wisdom and strength in your perjuangan.

    Re: Zaid’s letter to PM. Afraid PM might not understand the depth and meaning of the content.

  6. Abdullah Badawi is deficient in the 3 R, Reading, Writing and Arithmatics.

    When questioned he has always said I’ve not read the report.

    So far I’ve not seen any written essays from him.

    As for arithmatics, not sure he can count beyond the 10 fingers on his hands. He probably need his toes too.

  7. I hope the PM is not going to sleep while reading Zaid Ibrahim open letter. It will be a waste for such sounding letter not to be
    taken seriously. Today is the eve of HARI RAYA just before we go into Ist Sawal let us all be kind as human . PM this will be the best day for you to release all the ISA detainees .

    PM your FM Rais Yatim is totally wrong to argue on Guantaramo
    In Guantaramo there is no American detainees In our Kamunting you are detaining our very own Malaysian. It is not right to put our our citizen as the same category as those in Guantaramo.

    Once again I wish all Muslim Selamat Hari Raya

    Maaf Zahir Batin. FROM JAKARTA.

  8. How could this man – Zaid Ibrahim be in Umno and for so long? Did he lose his way and got ‘caught’ there? I have said it before and I will say it again – Zaid’s a brilliant man, a rare gem and as we all know, good capable guys have always been viewed as a threat and will never be tolerated in UMNO since the days of that Mamakfler. What a shame!!

    The message Zaid’s trying to send to the PM is too kind and too soothing for his ears. For all we know he could have snoozed off even before the 3rd paragraph! Well a good try Zaid, but I doubt the PM understands you, he’s too densed.

    My advice is, you and Tengku Razaleigh should just walk off and let UMNO’s termite-laden ship sink on its own, it’s kinder this way.

    You are a brilliant man and it’s a shame you have wasted so much time in UMNO and it got you no where. If you love this country, join Pakatan Rakyat and contribute to nation building, no ifs, no buts!

  9. Final countdown for justice.

    Zaid Ibrahim’s recent Open Letter to the PM to disband ISA in the best interest of nation, King and rakyat cannot be ignored any longer.

    Indeed, this former defacto law minister is the one person who has what it takes to not only talk the walk but also walk the talk.

    And if the government continues to dismiss the rational, passionate appeal as registered in Zaid’s letter, then the people must rise.

    The rakyat have a right and a moral responsibility to rise against all the evil that was bolted in place in the past. They have a duty to nation, King, fellow rakyat and humanity as a whole to rise against any further delay in freeing this nation from the bondage of evil plotters.

    To continue to holler that rakyat must go through the proper channels is all bunkum when even the Human Rights Commission’s recommendations are ignored todate.

    To continue to preach that we need the ISA for the good of the nation and rakyat is also most deceiving when Zaid has so clearly expressed the reason and the emotions for a better nation.

    STOP! Mr PM you have to do it and do it now.

    Let your honorable action be in this joyous post-Ramadan days of celebration. Remove ISA if you truly are patriotic to King and nation building.

    Otherwise the people will have to do it for the sole love and dignity of our King and rakyat and in the noble and untainted name of Islam.

    J. D. Lovrenciear

  10. It appears dumb people aways remain dumb. Idiots are always idiots. So are U, dear P.M. Why allow all the rogues in your cabinet to direct U to do things so obviously wrong? U appointed a bloody good man into cabinet as your “Law Minister” & yet U allow him to slip through your fingers because U didn’t have the guts to stand up to your “corrupt crooks, cheats, & low-down scums; ministers & UMNO supreme members. Why be a P.M. then?

    U can still redeem yourself by doing all the right things by the people NOT BY YOUR SCUMS. Be recognised as a great REFORMER – a GOOD P.M. Let the RAKYAT be your judge. Gather up strength & with GUTS give us the changes in governance. Get rid of ISA & free all those detained under that damned law. Be generous this Eidulfitri time.

    May ALLAH bless U & your family.

  11. What a pity, a missed opportunity to turn around this nation around. I think we should all not kid ourselves – the guy’s is so incompetent and useless even from Day One and we expect him to compress all those “must do” and deliver them within say, 10 days?

    When even finding a wife, he had to do it from within the confines of his household, and we expect “miracles” from him? Comeon….!!!

  12. Brother Din,

    First “Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri” to you and all my brothers of the Muslim faith.

    Please try to write shorter letters to the PM. Zaid’s letter to him as well. I’m sure he had dosed off after reading only the first 2 para. Even then, as Hi&Lo says…he may still have difficulties grasping its contents.

  13. Dear Din,

    First I would like to wish you a very Happy Raya with your family, loved ones and friends. Thank you for speaking out and thank you, Mr Zaid for being a principled man. I am one of those who have been very, very sad and angry with the state of affairs in our country.

    When Mr Badawi became our PM, I thought he was a breath of fresh air and that things would change for the better but five years now into his rule,I am very disappointed. He seems oblivious to what is happening around him and even as a layman, I just feel that he has no control over what he is doing or wants to do.

    Why cant he just be gentleman enough to give his task to someone more capable and honest to do the job…..I dont see why Syed Hamid, Najib and those involved should use the ISA to defend the wrong they are doing.Why can’t they fight it man to man in an open and just court. A well governed country does not play up to this kind of self defence. It is purely a case of cheating and being a bad loser.

    I don’t know RPK personally but I know he has been writing very enlightening articles to educate us Malaysians and take our new generation to a higher level and more mature level of political thinking in this country.

    Thank you for brave patriots like you,Mr Zaid and RPK.I wish to tell Marina and her family to stay strong in these trying times and I will pray for her family especially Mr RPK. I don’t think many of us feel good about Mr Najib being the next PM too because there is so much suspicion and question marks surrounding him. If he had been any political figure in the MEDCs ,he would have been out of politics long ago.

    I feel so upset because Malaysia is such a beautiful country with so little natural disasters accompanied by great sunny weather and further endowed with great natural resources like oil and palm oil. We also have a good mix of different races living peacefully most times but of late we do not have a good and fair government.By using the ISA on anyone or anybody just to defend the government’s actions tells me and the world outside that our government is really not a fair and just one.

    Thank you once again for being one of those brave ones to make a stand.More people are aware now.Thanks to all our patriotic bloggers too.We hope that a new change will take place soon.Do not use ISA blatantly..infact get rid of this archaic law.It is inhuman. God bless you Mr Din!

  14. Pak Lah is too naive. His power hungry cabinet colleagues are chucking him out. Those who kissed his hand are now stabbing him from behind.

    Pak Lah should not leave as yet. Prove to them that you cannot be tamed easily. Play your cards well. You still have many supporters within UMNO. Why worry? A smart politician will always look for skeletons in his enemies’ closets. Even if you can’t find any, create one and stay in power.

    Pak Lah, again please don’t give up too easily. Stay on and reveal the skeletons. Release the Hindraf 5, release RPK. RPK has done a lot to reveal the many skeletons those in power have. This is Hadhari that you are trying to promote. RPK will tell us what integrity is. Bank on him. He has done less harm to. Pak Lah, for god’s sake be a smart politician….
    Karma, like you, I believe that Pak Lah should stay and fight. He has all the power as UMNO President and Prime Minister to deal with all wolves in sheep’s clothing in his Cabinet and UMNO. Otherwise, he will be regarded as a bacul with no resolve.—Din Merican

  15. Pak Lah should stay and fight. He has all the power as UMNO President and Prime Minister to deal with all wolves”

    That’s ironic, Din! He’ll never solve UMNO’s problems that way despite all the tools at his disposal.

    Best chance he has is, to walk off … and over to PR! Call the shots on 13th!

    He’ll do himself and all of Malaysia a lot of good!

  16. Badawi stay and fight…? Din are you serious?

    If PR really have the numbers to form a government then I hope for the sake of our country that there is intense behind the scenes activity to ease them into power in a smooth manner. And very quickly too.

    But Badawi stay and fight..? Whatever next, I wonder… That Badawi stays in power for another four years???

  17. “Otherwise, the very men in UMNO who used to kiss your hand will now put a dagger in your back.” Zaid

    Allow me to re-phrase Zaid’s sentence a little.

    Otherwise the very men in UMNO who used to kiss your ass now have their fingers up your ass.

  18. Mr Bean I’m turning all red!! ‘One finger at a time’. Oh my gosh. How many fingers would have gone up then? Would Pak Lah be able to take it?

  19. I read somewhere that Pak Lah himself got a good deal from the deal Altantuya was involved in. If Pak Lah were to expose those involved in Altantuya’s case, then he might be exposing himself as well, wouldn’t he?

  20. Can I say Pak Lah would be ‘caught with his pants down.’ Do you think this would be a good phrase to use for Pak Lah in this case, Shrek?

  21. Shobhan

    That is mild. He was caught with one hand in the cookie jar, with his pants down, rear exposed, shit on his other hand, hanging over a crocodile and staring a tiger in the eyes. Meantime his chicken got eaten by the fox.

  22. Shall I interprete what you wrote in my own way. The chicken and fox case is Najib Altantuya while the rest refers to AAB and everything that happened during his sleeping sickness only to awaken when he stares the tiger in the eyes!!! How’s my interpretation?

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