Is It Really an Internal Security Act?
Just a few hours ago those attending the weekly Sunday gathering of bloggers and supporters of the anti-ISA, pro Anak Bangsa Malaysia “movement”, if you want to call it that, were asked by Robert if we would all wear the “Anti-Isa” badge, or T-shirt, as often, if not all the time where ever, whenever.
I found that a little uncomfortable. I have after all never really been one to wear my ideas, believes, support or anti-whatever on my back or collar. Most of whatever T- shirt that I wear that carry any kind of message was after all only given to me and if you catch me wearing it, it probably means I had no other ironed T shirt to wear!! And even in school I never wanted to wear the school badge!! I am not about to start changing some old habits.
Anyway, my discomfort was not so much about wearing anything on my collar or T-shirt but more because by wearing it I would be acknowledging the ISA (Internal Security Act). I would be acknowledging that the Act was passed for the purposes of securing the internal security of the nation. Of the country! Its very name itself appears to leave in my mind the notion or the possibility that the Internal Security, at the time of passing the Act in 1960, is just as threatened now as it was then.
Last weekend, Brother Rogers of the Catholic LaSalle Mission, I think, talked of his experience serving time under ISA in Kamunting when he was detained under the Operation Lalang in 1987. There was something that he said about how the act has been used that reflected more the insecurity of the people with the powers to impose it rather than the Internal Security of the nation that got me thinking.
ISA – Internal Security Act Or IinSA -Internal InSecurity Act
Wikipedia says this is called, in Malay, Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri! Oh well. I think the Malay version more accurately describes the intent of the Act as originally promulgated by those who passed it in 1960.
Section 8(1) of the ISA provides that ‘(i)f the minister is satisfied that the detention of any person is necessary …’ then s/he may issue an order for his/her detention. The three grounds given in Section 8(1) upon which the order may be based is where a person has acted in any manner prejudicial to the:
a) security of Malaysia or part thereof; or
b) maintenance of essential services; or
c) economic life.
Now, just going back to Operation Lalang, so many Opposition MPs were taken in despite them having sworn their commitment to serving the nation and its people. How then did they suddenly become a threat to country? Or was it that UMNO was under grave threat then?
The detentions following the Reformasi movement also failed to show how those detained were threatening the nation under the grounds above.
Then of course we had that Sri Lankan businessman Tahir or something who got detained for being the middle man between Scomi and the buyers in Libya of machinery parts that were to be used in building nuclear plants. Now, how did that threaten the “keselamatan dalam negeri”? Or was it more expedient to have him sequestered in Kamunting so that he cannot implicate the Prime Minister's son or his company?
More recently the detention of Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Theresa Kok and the Sin Chew reporter. Syed Hamid Albar, has to spin a tall tale to get anyone to believe that they posed any kind of threat to the country. But I will agree that Raja Petra posed a threat to UMNO. So did Theresa, whether by her self or by her being part of the Pakatan Rakyat. Obviously as for the reporter, Syed had to admit that she was taken in supposedly for her protection. Which means he admits she was not a threat to the nation. She may have been a threat, by her reporting to individuals within UMNO or to UMNO itself though.
What I see is, every time UMNO feels vulnerable and shaky. Every time certain leaders in UMNO sense any insecurity, whether for themselves, or for the party, the ISA has been conveniently employed. It is not so much a threat to the country. It is more an internalised insecurity of the UMNO leader or internalised insecurities of UMNO itself. You don't see the ISA ever being used when there are internal problems in MCA or MIC or when these parties take a position that UMNO might feel uncomfortable with. (But then again I can't remember MCA or MIC ever taking a position opposite to that taken by UMNO. After all they can't even respond to UMNO Youth's keris waving antics despite it being pointed at them).
We all like to say that we got to live up to our name. Does ISA or Internal Security Act necessarily reflect the purpose for which it has been used in the last 40 years?
Or would it be more true and honest to say that the name more suited for the Act, taking into consideration the purpose it has served over the last several decades, is IinSA or Internal Insecurity Act. After all the only honest explanation for all its recent uses are indicative of the internal insecurities of UMNO's leadership or UMNO itself.
Since honesty is such a rare commodity to expect out of the UMNO led government, can we then at least refer to and educate everyone that this is more IinSA -Internal InSecurity Act rather than ISA – Internal Security Act?