ISA is a Good Law, says Mahathir

April 16, 2012

ISA is a Good Law, says Mahathir

by Aidila Razak@

As the Dewan Rakyat debates the replacement law for the Internal Security Act (ISA), former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad remains convinced that it is a “good law”.

“We had the ISA because certain things had upset the stability of the country.It is not a bad law, but a good one which could curb potential threats,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today.

Mahathir (right), who has chalked several crackdowns under his premiership, added that the problem was not the law but the implementation.To support his argument, Mahathir said the US which had criticised the ISA, now has a law which is “worse than the ISA”.

“They allow detention without trial in Guantanamo Bay, for even up to 10 years and allow torture.”

However, when asked how he feels the new replacement law will fare in curbing security threats, he replied: “I have not studied it yet.”

In 1987 the government under Mahathir executed the notorious Operation Lalang that saw 106 citizens detained under ISA, including opposition leaders Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh as well as civil rights activists such as Kua Kia Soong.

In a recent book about the leader, however, the long-running former PM had denied he was behind the swoop and blamed the police.

Gov’t should not pay for rich students

Meanwhile, on the ongoing debate over free tertiary education, the former Prime Minister said that abolishing the PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund) will place a greater burden on the country’s economy.

“If you abolish the PTPTN, you’ll have to introduce something else which will be more costly  because it would mean free education which even the rich can enjoy,” he said.He reiterated that the objective of PTPTN is to help the underprivileged obtain tertiary education and not for those who can afford it.

“If the students don’t like it then they don’t have to take the loans, and those who support the abolition of PTPTN can support the students (in their studies),” he said.

On Saturday hundreds of students marched down the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand free tertiary education while a smaller group had pitched tents at Dataran Merdeka to “occupy” the iconic square until their demands are heard.

The KL City Council (DBKL), however, contended the students were in violation of its by laws and its enforcement officers attempted to dismantle the tents, resulting in a scuffle on Sunday.

The students have regrouped and are continuing to face DBKL officers who are adamant that they leave the area.

40 thoughts on “ISA is a Good Law, says Mahathir

  1. Do you guys agree with Dr. UMNO? He may be right since the new bill to replace the ISA could be more repressive than its precursor. Any law that suppresses individual freedom is a bad one as far as I am concerned. –Din Merican

  2. Develop talents should be the key, irrespects of of government or individual and
    – pay for talents irrespects of rich, poor, race or nationality;
    – provide loans to students who need it:
    – students must learn to pay back the loan, not written off for better future!

  3. ISA is definitely good for dictators to keep them in power.

    Try arrest Mahathir or his family members under ISA and subject them to all the usual torture. Let’s see if he still thinks ISA is a good law.

  4. A typically callous comment by someone who when push came to shove did not hesitate to screw the country just to save his children’s hides. Now he tells those who don’t support the PTPTN to support those who want to study. He did everything to save his Onasis-of-the-East son by using the nation’s assets and now he says others cannot do the same.

    Seems the older he gets the more he seems hell-bent on making satan his bosom buddy.

  5. This is a good law if used with honesty. Sad to say the “good” dr. and nearly most others, have not used it the way it was designed for.
    Now so what if the Yanks are using a law that is even more repressivre than this one, they are by no means angels. By implication does it mean the dr. now thinks differently of the yanks?
    I belive this move to remove “Mohd ISA” is a move by Najis to support his election BS.With the dishing out of money, I would not like to be the oppisition winning the GE as they would inherit a bankrupt government.

  6. “They allow detention without trial in Guantanamo Bay, for even up to 10 years and allow torture.” Mahathir

    They are enemy combatants and Guantanamo Bay is not on U.S. soil. But I support Obama’s move to bring them on U.S. soil and have them tried. It would be too much to expect somebody like Mahathir to know the difference.

    But it is true prior to 9/11 Malaysia was criticized for having a security legislation like the Internal Security Act escecially with the right of judicial review removed. The courts must be given back their residual discretion to review actions by the executive.

    Post 9/11 you could go so far as to say the U.S. took a leaf out of the Malaysian experience and has ceased active criticism of Malaysia’s use of repressive laws like the ISA because it has its own U.S Patriot Act. But the U.S. Patriot Act deals with many issues and the more controversial ones which encroach on the fundamental liberties of its own citizens are reviewed each year. It is hard for the average Malaysian to understand the independence of the courts here. But you need only one sitting at one of the court proceedings to be convinced that judges here don’t give a damn what the government thinks. It is what the law says.

  7. Any law that suppresses individual freedom is a bad one as far as I am concerned. –Din Merican

    I’m afraid that is too broad and rather simplistic a view. You may want to read the works of Rousseau and come to an understanding of his concept of the ‘general will’.

    • I have read both Rousseau and Voltaire. I rather remain simplistic to convey a message in layman’s terms. You should explain Rousseau’s general will for the benefit of our readers.–Din Merican

      Those interested read this

      The idea of the general will is at the heart of Rousseau’s philosophy. The general will is not the will of the majority. Rather, it is the will of the political organism that he sees as an entity with a life of its own. The general will is an additional will, somehow distinct from and other than any individual will or group of individual wills. The general will is, by some means, endowed with goodness and wisdom surpassing the beneficence and wisdom of any person or collection of persons. Society is coordinated and unified by the general will.

      Rousseau, the author of Emile, believed that this general will actually exists and that it demands the unqualified obedience of every individual. He held that there is only one general will and, consequently, only one supreme good and a single overriding goal toward which a community must aim. The general will is always a force of the good and the just. It is independent, totally sovereign, infallible, and inviolable.

      The result is that all powers, persons, and their rights are under the control and direction of the entire community. This means that no one can do anything without the consent of all. Everyone is totally dependent on everybody for all aspects of their lives. Such universal dependency eliminates the possibility of independent individual achievement. In addition, when the individual joins society in order to escape death or starvation, he can be a sacrificial victim ready to give up his life for others. Life is a gift made conditional by the state.

      All power is transferred to a central authority or sovereign that is the total community. Major decisions are made by a vote by all in what Rousseau calls a plebiscite that is something like a town meeting without the benefit of debate. A legislator proposes laws but does not decide on them. The legislator is a person or an intellectual elite body that works out carefully worded alternatives, brings people together, and has people vote with the results binding on all. The authority of the legislator derives from his superior insight, charisma, virtue, and mysticism. The legislator words the propositions of the plebiscite so that the “right” decision will result. The right decisions are those that change human nature. The unlimited power of the state is made to appear legitimate by the apparent consent of the majority.

      Between plebiscites, the government (i.e., the bureaucracy) governs by decree. The government interprets the laws and settles each case based on the perceived merits. Both executive and judicial, the government is a bureaucracy with huge discretionary powers. The legislator is over and above this bureaucracy. In a total democracy, the real government is the bureaucracy that applies the law to day-to-day situations.

      Rousseau was an advocate of the ancient idea of the omnipotence of the lawgiver. Rulers are in some way attuned to the dictates of the general will and able to incorporate these dictates into specific laws. No one can challenge these laws because their source is the wise and beneficent general will. Rousseau permits no disobedience of the general will once its decisions have been made. Man’s will must be subordinated and he must abide by the general will even though he thinks he disagrees with it. The person who “disagrees” with the general will must be mistaken.

      According to Rousseau, each person wants to be good and therefore would want to obey the general will. It follows that when a person disagrees with the general will, he would actually be acting contrary to his own basic desires and that it would be proper to use force to attain his agreement with the general will. The general will reflects the real will of each member of society. By definition, the general will is always right. The general will is the overriding good to which each person is willing to sacrifice all other goods, including all particular private wills.

      The “good citizen” assigns to society’s laws a goodness and wisdom exceeding his own goodness and wisdom. It is therefore quite possible to have a conflict between what a person thinks that he wills and that which he truly wills. The good citizen is able to identify his own will with the general will.

      If the general will is supreme, then citizens are free only to obey in equal servitude. People who refuse to comply with the general will can be forced to comply. If people want to be good, the rulers can make them be good. Rousseau thus viewed the political community as the proper means for liberating men from their mistaken perceptions and from the conflicts and corruptions of society.

      Rousseau’s idea of the general will is related to the organic concept of the state as not merely real but more real than the individuals who live within its bounds. What matters is the whole of which the individual is a part. The individual person and his own ideas, values, and goals mean nothing. By regarding human beings as means to higher ends, rather than an end in themselves, Rousseau greatly contributed to the intellectual collectivization of man. It was a small step to Hegel’s contention that the general will is the will of the state and that the state is the earthly manifestation of the Absolute. Furthermore, there was an easy transition from Hegel’s political philosophy to the totalitarian systems of Marx and Hitler.

      Rulers who followed Rousseau’s philosophy were able to demonstrate a vibrant but deceptive humanitarianism. They expressed love for humanity while at the same time crushing those who disagreed with the general will. For example, during the French Revolution, individuals like Robespierre were given enormous power to express the general will. Of course, dictators like Robespierre turned the general will into an expression of their own wills. Likewise, today when politicians refer to the good or aim of society, they are almost always referring to the good or aim of an individual or collection of individuals who want to impose their own vision upon others.

      In short, the general will (volonté générale), made famous by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is a concept in political philosophy referring to the will of the people as a whole. As used by Rousseau, the “general will” is identical to the Rule of Law, and to Spinoza’s mens una.

  8. “We had the ISA because certain things had upset the stability of the country.It is not a bad law, but a good one which could curb potential threats,” — Mahathir

    Define ‘stability’.

  9. Yes, good law for apanama selective amnesia suffering benevolent and would be dictators.

    If you have proof, charge them in court or improve the vigilance system.

    I think before anyone is ever elected PM, they and their immediate families should spend 6 months OHMS in Kamunting, so they’ll never invoke the ISA when in office.

  10. Rousseau’s concept of the ‘general will’ doesn’t lend itself to just one interpretation. And by no means an easy interpretation. Advocates of the tyranny of the majority over the minority and Occupy Dataran Merdeka supporters may claim to find support in his writings just as those who seek to preserve the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
    And so, Mongkut Bean, what is your message relating to the general will? Inconclusive, I guess, subject to conditions. We subject ourselves to the general will because we are trading part of our individual freedom since we think we can be protected by the Rule of Law, and can benefit from such a deal. –Din Merican

  11. Easy. When Goolbatok imposes his will on you, you will feel the pain. “No pleasure without pain,” says Bendover Singh. Jaswant who as usual will be looking for that one opportunity says, “There is no free lunch”.

  12. Americans are not using the patriot act to arrest their political opponents are they?

    Yes, ISA is a good law for a draconian like Dr. M. Now I hope he’ll just keep his thoughts to himself. He’s acting like Iago.

  13. Dato Din, i truly commend your effort in putting it Concisely, Coherently what others might take ages to comprehend & understand the concept of The General Will by Rousseau or Voltaire.
    Al’Rumi states : ” The lamps are different, but the light is the same : it comes from beyond “. This is what i understand the ” Fithrah ” of Man.
    Man is imbibed by his Natural Proclivity towards his Primordial Nature, within his own nature of Innate Goodness….as of original creation.
    Hence, i believe the emanation of Rousseau’s idea of General Will.

    If i may interpret it, its Seperate but also kindred to the Rule of Law that we cherish & uphold in our democratic processes, particularly in our total Legal System for the purposes of Dispensation of justice. To me, if i may term it, The General Will or the Rule of Law is the ” Benchmark” set for the common Good of Society, attainable if only every Individual strive to uphold his own natural proclivity to that primordial Instinct that sets Man apart from the Lower Beings in the animal kingdom….

  14. I agree with TDM that ISA is a good law. It is the application of the law that is bad. Many politician had abused the good law by using it for self interest. and the greatest abuser of the good law (ISA) is none other than TDM himself.

    Steven Chew

  15. Beautifully put Abnizar.

    The only way a law such as the ISA can exist is when a nation has found maturity. When there is discernment and wisdom . Not in the scenario of M’sia today. She has regressed so much. However that regression is a neccesary condition before wisdom can be attained. M’sia is an infant in the realm of wisdom. And as with all infants the focus is on “I”.

    Sure there are those few who have attained wisdom but in general , M’sia has a long way to go . They still lean towards their tendency to base instincts that are too strong , their instinct is about survival of the fittest and not one of Innate Goodness yet and so we see unjust applications of law if there is a Rule fo Law to speak of. That will come since this regression has caused pain. So for now the ISA as a law although workable when used in its intent in certain situations and prudently in some nations , is not to be entrusted too our current government.

    You see what our government “doesnt” understand is we the people, entrusted them temporarily whislt in offcie to serve our needs. The implication of that trust is we want the government to err on the side of wisdom and caution and act favourably for the people. They have breached that trust.

  16. I have read both Rousseau and Voltaire. I rather remain simplistic to convey a message in layman’s terms. You should explain Rousseau’s general will for the benefit of our readers.–Din Merican

    You can write an entire dissertation on that and submit it for your PhD. Most of us here are not as capable as Abnizar who could do it the way he did when he took us through the doctrine of subjudice..

  17. And because the government has breached our trust, we cannot allow them the privelege of handling difficult legislations meant to protect us

  18. Sorry to have to correct you Mr Bean, that’s misleading. If you care to refer back the thread on TR suing MAS’ Subsidiaries, b’coz its pending in a Court trial, the judge will be getting to deal with the hard facts or evidence through witnesses, i merely put in a ‘caution’ to commentators to not over-comment on ” facts ” which may inadvertantly preempt the judge’s Findings. So my comment was possibility of infringement of the Contempt rule. NEVER did i talk of ” Subjudice”, which is a different thing – Subjudice being of a much larger compass, like the Speaker was using it,rightly or wrongly, within ” his ” power ( or abusing it as some had commented).

    I was surprised in a subsequent thread, you had quipped : Subjudice ? Nonsense ! or, to the effect that ” i was trying to put fear into the bloghost etc…? no, no, no… point was on ” Contempt “, kindly refer back. and thanx for that. i think you took it to that different trajectory….

  19. Not being a lawyer, but merely expressing concern – common sense !

    When there is specific ( or particular ) like Contempt, we talk in term of specific, Not the General like Subjudice which is the ” Larger ” – like the Speaker in Parliament using it to ” hide ” his political motives. Court scenario ” Contempt ” can be punitive….its different.

    You had me ” mixed-up” in that ” Subjudice” which i did not intend, now you pin me down for being too clever, that’s a flip=flop ! Unfair !

  20. Ok, ok….Mr Bean, you win i will concede : i get your final point, you that ‘flip’, and i that ‘flop’ – so it takes two to clap the hands to produce that sound : Flip-flop ! we all learn something all the time, don’t we ?

  21. You’d do well to first try and understand what the doctrine of subjudice means before you lecture us readers on how we could be liable for contempt of court.

  22. That’s right. Over here the rights under the First Amendment (including freedom of speech) trump everything else. The doctrine of subjudice is archaic and is not followed here.

  23. No, no need for lecture, of which i am not proficient !

    Contempt is but a specie of which Subjudice is the Genus ! Circumstances giving rise to ” possible ” Situations bordering on the Contempt rule are too Numerous & varied that it is not something easily recognizable – Only the Presiding judge would be able to recognize , as and when it crosses the boundary, he would invoke his powers….

  24. ‘Lecture’ as in you trying to educate readers what contempt of court is. And now you’re trying to educate readers that it is a matter for the judge to rule if someone is in contempt of court. Give yourself a break.

  25. I think i like this lady (have to check the Article ) some months ago she said some wise things – to the effect :

    We share or we engage here in this respectable Blog, for healthy discussions, or even heated arguements to Seek for ‘ truths “, that’s the objective ( of course ” truths ” are relative) – She said we should try not to go into nebulous arguements, by sheer use of ” clever ” language or teminologies, just in order to pin down or defeat another’s arguements.
    It defeats the purpose…. if its merely to win arguements.

    Yes with that, i shall follow your advice Mr Bean, and give myself a ” break “

  26. This is simply not ” healthy ” its a ” mirror ” reflection of how shallow one can be…
    i have given way 4 times, so now again the 5th, i have taken the ‘break’ as ordered..,, but sorry that you are unrelenting in your ‘clever’ taunt…i won’t fall for it.
    You should know why i am calling it ‘quits’ this 5th time ? We have to accept, whether we like it or not, that the most cardinal principle of democracy is : We all have to agree to disagree – that should be the Finality…..i do still hold my respect for this world-renown Blog, as you can see…..

  27. sorry, we should not get personal, but kick our ass we must, IF we are unable to elicit ” truth”…truth hurts but heals…

  28. Mere arguements with no cents ( ooops no sense ) or mere verbiage….

    i dont mean to lecture, Forget humour, but serious.

    When Roussoue was talking about General Will, that is Genus dealing with the Larger, within which is the specie called The Rule of Law, which is the Particular – the Smaller is contained in the Larger… they are Seperate but kindred !
    And, the Rule of Law is Scientific….called the Science of Law or technically ” Legal Jurisprudewnce :” ….Comprendo ?

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