As reported in malaysiakini, the HINDRAF five are being detained under the ISA, the most draconian laws we allowed our MPs to pass in Parliament without much debate as usual.
Using the ISA to check the HINDRAF leaders is like using nuclear weapons to eliminate a rag and bones army and the fall-out will affect innocent lives.
It seems the top leaders are not thinking with much foresight and we know that the problems highlighted by the HINDRAF group have been known for some years. Ordinary Malaysians too must take some of the blame for perhaps many of us were too busy with our own problems to look at the problems facing other groups in our society.
Now it has come to the ISA something I feel should only be used with proper checks and balances. Our present laws would have made Saddam Hussein proud as it is really too powerful be be left unchecked in the hands of two or three men.
Based on the article from the Star, these are the main points:
Under Section 73 (1) of the ISA, the police can detain any individual for up to 60 days without a warrant, trial and without access to legal counsel if he was suspected to have “acted or is about to act or is likely to act in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof."
After 60 days, the Minister of Home Affairs can extend the period of detention without trial for up to two years, without submitting any evidence for review by the courts, by issuing a detention order, which is renewable indefinitely.
You will note the following:
Police can detain you for 60 days without warrant, no access to a lawyer just based on a suspicion.
After 60 days detention, you can be detained for 2 years without trial just with the signature of the Minister without the courts knowing anything about your case. In other words, you become a prisoner of the Minister without any state institution even looking at the facts of the case.
Now comes the killer blow. The detention order can be renewed indefinitely.
It is a sobering to realise that we celebrate our 50th year of nationhood with the application of such a law.
Remember the Guildford four? They were imprisoned in the UK on suspicion of links with the Irish terrorists but were found innocent after many years. Maybe the HINDRAF five may become similar heroes in ASEAN.
I pray that we are not creating our own terrorists with the use of such draconian laws.