Malaysiakini Letter

ISA impedes democracy, breeds corruption

Ambiga Sreenevasan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (Bersih 2.0) calls for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA) together with other anti-human rights legislation.

Their continued presence make free and fair elections impossible, curb multiparty democracy and breed corruption and political instability.

To date, 10,662 people have been arrested under the ISA in the past 44 years, 4,139 were issued with formal detention orders and 2,066 were served with restriction orders governing their activities and where they live. They should be released or charged in open court.

Unfortunately, ISA is disguised as a weapon against terrorist threats but is more often used to politically oppress non-violent dissidents, from opposition leaders, religious leaders, women and human rights activists, academics, students, education activists, trade unionists, journalists to environmentalists.

Bersih 2.0, therefore, stresses that ISA is not only cruel and unjust, the 50- year-old draconian act has terrorised the psyche of Malaysians, making them shy away from public affairs and rightful citizens? participation.

By curbing multiparty democracy and the possibility of party alternation, the ISA helps sustain the electoral one-party state we live in and further hurts economic stability. In turn, maintaining the ISA will further perpetuate unfettered corruption and abuse of powers.

Bersih 2.0 warns that if the ISA stays, opposition and civil society leaders may be arrested anytime the BN federal government feels threatened, especially in the coming elections.

Malaysians are reminded that even the political tsunami of March 8 was not enough to halt this abuse of power. We witnessed three civilians - parliamentarian Teresa Kok, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng - being detained under ISA in September 2008, without any legitimate reasons.

Bersih demands that the ISA must be completely abolished and not merely amended, so as to avoid abuses. Bersih 2.0 also calls for the repeal of all preventive detention laws.

The writer is chairperson, The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (Bersih 2.0).

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