Repealing a barbaric law

N Surendran

Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

Throughout the ages, it has been the position taken by people like Aizuddin Danian that has allowed every kind of petty and grand dictator to go about his foul business unchallenged ('ISA for stability', June 27).

Calling for the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA) has nothing to do with aping the West. It has to do with getting rid of a barbaric law which gives the State the power to arbitrarily incarcerate anyone it pleases, without having to produce a shred of evidence to prove the victim's wrongdoing. (Where are those famous grenade launchers which Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor and friends are supposed to have hoarded?)

The ISA plunges its victims into a Kafkasque nightmare in which they are not able to answer the accusations against them or confront their accusers in open judicial proceedings and in which they are not even presented with a properly formulated charge stating exactly what it is that they're supposed to have done.

In some ways it is even worse than the medieval inquisitions, because at least the inquisition makes a finding of guilt or innocence, whereas under the ISA a person could be kept hanging on in uncertainty indefinitely.

Is it civilised behaviour to pluck men and women off the streets, throw them into tiny cells, prevent them from consulting their lawyers, deny them access to their families and rob them of any opportunity to answer the accusations made against them?

And wouldn't giving the police such extensive powers tremendously increase the possibility of physical abuse of detainees?

Apart from the sickening assault upon a former deputy prime minister of this country, there are countless accounts of physical abuse published by former ISA detainees. Are they all liars?

In suggesting that the ISA be retained, the writer asks whether we are "willing to bet the lives of our loved ones, and the stability of the nation....". My answer is simple. I am not willing to sacrifice the liberty of other people even for the sake of my loved ones!

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