Let us not forget RPK and other ISA detainees, say Malek Imitiaz Sarvar

posted by Din Merican (October 3, 2008)


Abolish ISA
Let Us Not Forget him and others detained under ISA
This Hari Raya, sixty four individuals will be prevented from spending time with families and loved ones the way they rest us of will. What stops them from doing this is not a term of imprisonment, they have not been charged or convicted or any crime, nor incapacity, they are as capable as you and I. Detained under the Internal Security Act in Kemunting, the barrier that lies between them and the rest of us is the judgment of one man, the Home Affairs Minister.

As a young boy, I used to read ‘2000AD’. Through this I came to know of Judge Dredd and how he and his fellow police officers were ‘Judge, Jury and Executioner’. And even though the guns, motorbikes, violence and women in leather were really my focus, an understanding of why the rules had to be suspended in that comic-strip world did filter through. The situation was extreme; these enforcers were the last bastions against a world of total chaos. They were the law because the situation demanded it.

The justifications the Government offers for its continued use of the ISA are strikingly similar. We have been told, in one form or the other, that those detained are threats to national security. We are urged to understand that there are compelling reasons that make it a matter of critical importance that they be detained without trial. Were they left free to work their schemes through to completion, it is said, the nation would be in grave danger.

As much as the current Home Affairs Minister may think he is Judge Dredd (tread with caution, the image of the Minister in leather, zips and boots is not for the faint hearted), he should perhaps appreciate more fully that Malaysia is not facing the kind of apocalyptic prospect that the ISA was designed for. The extreme gravity and urgency warranting summary detentions is conspicuously absent. We are a nation at peace; armed insurrections are a thing of a distant past. We would not be plunged into chaos, democracy destroyed, if we stopped to smell the roses, or try those detained in court for that matter.

Circumstances are such that we are left with little choice but to doubt the legitimacy of detentions under the ISA.

How are we to believe that those detained were in fact the serious threats they were supposed to have been when so many of them had gone on to serve the Government in one way or the other? Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim was detained in 1974 and kept in detention for some twenty months. He went on to serve the nation as Education Minister, Finance Minister and, ultimately Deputy Prime Minister. Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, our current Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation was also detained for some two months in 1991. They are just two of numerous instances.

How are we not to doubt the bona fides of detentions when the ISA was amended in 1989 to put the Minister’s decision to detain beyond the reach of the law. How else is one to characterize restricting the scope of review to merely matters of procedure? Scrutinizing detention orders to see whether the Minister dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s while he thumbs his nose at you from behind his legislative barricade is not a process that inspires confidence.

How are we to trust in the sincerity of explanations when though our current Prime Minister declared in 1987 that, “Laws such as the Internal Security Act have no place in modern Malaysia. It is a draconian and barbaric law.” he did an about face in 2003, saying instead, “We have never misused the Internal Security Act. All those detained under the Internal Security Act are proven threats to society”. The irreconcilable positions reveal just how far politics rules the day. That a significant number of those detained through the years have stood in the way of the Government’s political interests only goes to reinforce this impression.

Sadly though, what I have said here is not novel. Many before me have expressed the same sentiment, their pleas having fallen on ears deafened by other priorities it would seem. This has been aided in part by the way in which the issue has consistently been permitted to slip back to the periphery after the initial flurry of excitement and expressions of disbelief that mark the then most recent round of detentions. The issue lies there, in its dark corner, forgotten like those who have been detained; out of sight, out mind.

In allowing for this we have given comfort to the Government, indicating to it that as much as we may have disagreed, it is not a matter of great importance to us. We are as much to blame as those who put the detainees away.

Eid is a time for reflection and introspection; it is a time for resolve. This year as we celebrate and give thanks, perhaps we could pause to remind ourselves how fortunate we are for not having been forgotten, for being able to reach out to touch those who matter to us. Perhaps we could take a moment to see that we are really all that those who slowly fade away under the ISA have.

Let us remember them and the injustice that they have been made to suffer, let us not let others forget.

Eid Mubarak.

(Malik Imtiaz Sarwar is counsel to Raja Petra Kamarudin who was detained under the ISA on 12.09.2008. He is also the President of the National Human Rights Society and blogs as ‘Disquiet’ at http://www.malikimtiaz.blogspot.com)

(Malay Mail; 30th September 2008)

5 thoughts on “Let us not forget RPK and other ISA detainees, say Malek Imitiaz Sarvar



    Proceedings are scheduled to start at 9am, which means RPK can be expected to be brought in earlier
    Its our ‘Reserve Group’ turn to do our bits (those who missed the trip to Kamunting) from PJ and KL to show support to RPK. Next Monday 6th Oct, take hald-day leave if you have to. It’s “RPK Sedition trial : Directions to the PJ Sessions Court”
    Pls go to


    to get full details. I will be be there. Pls be early.
    God Bless All.

  2. Brother Din,

    The following statement is by LIM kit Siang;

    Even if Abdullah is to bow to the ultimatum of the Umno warlords and announce before Oct. 9 that he will not defend the post of Umno President and will step down as Prime Minister next March, let Abdullah not exit as a lameduck Prime Minister but write a glorious reform programme for police, judiciary, anti-corruption, ISA and press freedom in his last six months in office.

    Please note the last para; “in his last six months in office”.

    Indirectly, Lim Kit Siang is saying that the present government of Abdullah and the gangs will not be kicked out.

    Unconciously, Lim Kit Siang is telling us that 916 is just a bullshit.

    For the next 6 month he still hoping for Dollah to work as PM and not DSAI.

    Ask Lim Kit Siang or DSAI to clarify on this. Ask Lim why he still hoping for Dollah to do this and that in the next 6 months.

    Brother RPK is now the victim as he was betting on DSAI and Pakatan govenment for his freedom.

  3. Dear Din,

    Sorry to side track, Can you tell me why Especially Malays and Islam ppl do not ever stand up and defend non-Malays or Non-Islam whenever good deeds are done for them?
    Would you agree the only way to integrate all rakyat is to appreciate, support and informed or educate the benefits of it all. I hardly ever heard of any Malays or Non-Muslims that give due credit about other races. By just showing Malays and Islam in all TV channels gives a false impression that Malaysia is the only living beings in the country, agree?

    Thank God Zaid may be the first person that touches on this subject.

    Isn’t it high time, the truth be unvail? Pls let me hear your thought on this, Thanks.

    Someone from the blog:

    Teresa’s is not just the first case linking to religion like Islam or Malays but the best ‘Test’ case for all Malays and Islam preacher in Malaysia now.

    Where are all those Malays and Islamic ppl who claim to support Teresa? Isn’t it time they should stand out to be counted and tell the truth also? Especially to their own kind? Seriously, if only what the Malays talk so loud about equality and the likes, this is a perfect case and time to Educate and set free the minds of other misguided, misinformed, brainwashed Malays thinkers or dictators in this country.

    It have been too long now, while non-Islam or Non-Malays who do great things for them. They choose to turn a blind eye. In the end, they choose to be what they are, what else can you say?

    I urged all those Malay or Islam folks who have benefited from Teresa’s work to Stand Up! have backbone! Be Free! Tell the truth!! Is that so difficult? Talk is Cheap, Action and Stand up for Teresa Now and Set free for your own kind. We don’t hate Islam or Malays, just give others ( Non-Islam, Non-Malays) a chance to love you?

  4. Sorry, typo error,

    By just showing Malays and Islam in all TV channels gives a false impression that Malays and Islam is the only living beings in the country, agree?
    All the current medias are only good for lying to the Malay rakyat. Isn’t it myopic and setting bondages to them?

    Pls enlighten me?

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