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COMMENT | Ops Lalang: Abolish all detention without trial laws

COMMENT | On Oct 27, 1987, a black day in Malaysian history dubbed ‘Operation Lalang’ happened. This massive crackdown using the draconian detention without trial law, the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) resulted in about 106 human rights defenders, politicians and others being arrested, and detained, some for almost two years.

The Home Ministry also withdrew the printing and publishing licenses of the Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan, which was restored almost five months later on around March 1988.

Whilst the ISA was repealed in end July 2012, other draconian detention without trial (DWT) laws like the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota) and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 (DDSPMA) still remain, and many persons continue to be arrested, detained and/or restricted without trial in Malaysia.

DWT laws allow the Executive to administratively detain/restrict persons for reasons that cannot be challenged in courts, and as such lies and falsehood can be used. The reasons or justification for the use of such DWT laws cannot be challenged in courts. Hence, the judiciary’s role in a democracy, to serve as a check and balance to the actions/omissions of the Executive is removed...

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