September 20, 2011
Minister Nazri Aziz: New Laws will focus on Terrorism, Race and Religion
But the de facto Law Minister pledged that the two new laws to replace the Internal Security Act (ISA) would not be as repressive as the controversial law being repealed. He stressed that the two replacement laws “cannot” be more repressive in nature as the Prime Minister had promised meaningful reforms to the country’s preventive laws.
The Minister said that one of the laws would tackle terrorism while the second would specifically deal with safeguarding public peace and order, and touch on racial and religious relations.
“But these laws, as the PM said last week, must comply with two fundamental issues — one, no one can be arrested on the basis of differences in political ideologies and two, extended detention can only be approve through the courts. These are the two safeguards,” he told reporters after meeting with representatives from the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia here this evening.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced last Thursday the repeal of the ISA, the three Emergency Declarations and also the need for annual printing and publishing permits when both Dewan Negara and Dewan Rakyat have their next sitting.He said two new laws would be enacted in place of the ISA to protect the peace, harmony and security of the country but admitted that they were “risky but necessary for our survival.”
Just days after Najib’s announcement, resistance began to surface, with political hardliners like Perkasa’s Datuk Ibrahim Ali calling on the Prime Minister to preserve the spirit of the ISA in the two new laws.
Those across the political divide remained cautiously optimistic of the reforms, expressing fears that the enactment of two new laws meant the ISA was merely being repackaged.
Nazri, however, reminded Malaysians that both laws would still be subject to lengthy parliamentary debates and public consultation before they are enacted.He rubbished criticisms that the laws could be more repressive than the ISA or that they would merely be a repackaging of the ISA, saying such statements were “ridiculous”.
“If they are that repressive and yet are passed in Parliament, then the opposition must be sleeping,” said the outspoken Minister. Nazri also revealed that the Attorney-General (A-G) is scheduled to brief the Cabinet tomorrow on the abolition of the ISA and issues surrounding the two new laws to be drafted.
He said the laws should be ready to be tabled by the March Parliamentary sitting after the A-G gathers feedback and consults with all relevant stakeholders.
On proposals to repeal and make further amendments to other security and press laws in the country, Nazri expressed confidence that if the ISA, the “mother of all laws”, could be repealed, the government would likely have no qualms doing the same to other pieces of legislation in the future.
The Minister also said there was no need for the government to apologise or compensate former ISA detainees, insisting that they had been lawfully detained.
“Anything that was done in the past was done according to the law.Similarly, if we decide one day that it is no longer illegal to steal, should we then apologise or compensate all the thieves who were punished under the law in the past?” he reasoned.