EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE INTERNAL SECURITY ACT (ISA)
August 3, 2009
This article is prepared by Anak Bangsa Malaysia
INTERNAL SECURITY ACT, 1960 (Act 82) is an Act to provide for the internal security of Malaysia, preventive detention, the prevention of subversion, the suppression of organised violence against persons and property in specified areas of Malaysia, and for matters incidental thereto. [West Malaysia - 1st August. 1960; East Malaysia - 16th September 1963.]
“WHEREAS action has been taken and further action is threatened by a substantial body of persons both inside and outside Malaysia-
(1) To cause, and to cause a substantial number of citizens to fear, organized violence against persons and property; and
(2) To procure the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of the lawful Government of Malaysia by law established;
AND WHEREAS the action taken and threatened is prejudicial to the security of Malaysia;
AND WHEREAS Parliament considers it necessary to stop or prevent that action;”
WHAT IS ISA?
The Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) is a preventive detention law in force in Malaysia.
Any person may be detained by the police for up to 60 days without trial for an act which allegedly prejudices the security of the country.
After 60 days, one may be further detained for a period of two years each, to be approved by the Minister of Home Affairs, thus making indefinite detention without trial.
In 1989, the powers of the Minister under the legislation were made immune to judicial review by virtue of amendments to the Act. Now, only the courts are ‘allowed’ to examine and review technical matters pertaining to the ISA arrest.
WHEN DID THE ISA BECOME LAW?
The precursor to the ISA was the Emergency Ordinance 1948 -1960 promulgated by the British Colonial Regime to counter the then Communist Insurgency.
The ISA came into force on 1st August 1960.
WHY WAS THE ISA INTRODUCED?
The Government of Malaya legislated the ISA as a continuation of the Emergency Ordinance 1948 to specifically deal with the threat of the Communist Insurgency.
When the ISA was introduced in 1960, solemn promises were made in Parliament by then prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, his deputy Abdul Razak and the Minister of Home Affairs Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, that the law will be used judiciously and only against communists, terrorists and subversives.
The Communist Insurgency officially ended in 1989 with the signing of the Haadyai Peace Accord.
WHAT ARE THE GOVERNMENT’S REASONS FOR RETAINING ISA AFTER THE PEACE ACCORD OF 1989?
No country can do without preventive detention laws to safeguard internal security.
Security and stability are pre-requisites to ensure economic prosperity. Laws like the ISA are indispensable tools for maintaining the racial, religious and social harmony.
Preventive laws like the ISA are needed to deal with the potential problems and conflicts in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural society.
The ISA is not only about preventive detention. It deals with such matters as ban on quasi-military organizations and subversive publications, restriction on the movement of undesirable persons and proclamation of security areas.
The ISA is needed in this age of cross-border terrorism to safeguard the sovereignty of the nation.
HOW MANY ARE IN DETENTION?
Since August 1960, 10,662 people have been arrested under the various preventive detention laws.
4,139 were detained under Internal Security Act.
2,066 were served with restriction orders governing their activities and where they live.
12 people were executed for offences under the ISA between 1984 and 1993.
As of July 2009, 13 people are still under detention.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE MOST AFFECTED BY THE ISA DETENTIONS?
The spouses, children and close family members who are deprived of their loved ones and; often times the primary source of their household income.
The family members are faced with the social stigma, and in many cases are ostracized by relatives, neighbours, and friends.
The family members have also known to face ‘harassment’ from the authorities.
WHY THE ISA IS CONSIDERED A DRACONIAN LAW BY CIVIL SOCIETY?
The ISA is contrary to fundamental principles of international law, including the right to liberty of the person, to freedom from arbitrary arrest, to be informed of the reasons for arrest, to the presumption of innocence, and to a fair and open trial in a court of law.
The ISA goes against the right of a person to defend himself in an open and fair trial. The person can be incarcerated up to 60 days of interrogation without access to legal counsel.
A person detained under the ISA during the first 60 days is held incommunicado, with no access to the outside world.
Torture goes concurrently with ISA detention. Former detainees have testified to being subjected to severe physical and psychological torture. This may include one or more of the following: physical assault, forced nudity, sleep deprivation, round-the-clock interrogation, death threats, threats of bodily harm to family members, including threats of rape and bodily harm to their children.
Prolonged torture and deprivation have led to detainees signing state-manufactured ‘confessions’ under severe duress.
The Internal Security Act (ISA) remains the core of the permanent, arbitrary powers to detain without trial available to the Executive.
The ISA has been consistently used against people who criticize the government and defend human rights. The Act is an instrument maintained by the ruling government to control public life and civil society.
Since 1960 when the Act was enacted, thousands of people including trade unionists, student leaders, labour activists, political activists, religious groups, academicians, NGO activists have been arrested under the ISA. Many political activists in the past have been detained for more than a decade.
Beyond the violation of basic rights experienced by particular individuals, the ISA has had a wider, intimidating effect on civil society, and a marked influence on the nature of political participation and accountability in Malaysia.
The ISA has been used to suppress peaceful political, academic and social activities, and legitimate constructive criticism by NGOs and other social pressure groups. It limits the political space for important debates on issues of economic policy, corruption and other social challenges.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR ABOLISHING THE ISA?
The ISA permits the executive to detain any one it likes without a court trial, without any possibility of judicial review of the minister’s decision and without any limits on how many two-year periods of detention may be ordered.
The ISA is a blatant violation of all international canons of rule of law, natural justice and due process.
Article 149 of the Constitution under which the ISA is enacted permits special legislation when subversive action has been taken or threatened “by any substantial body of persons”. The use of the ISA to detain individual dissidents indulging in non-violent opposition to the Government in peace time is a violation of the letter and spirit of Article 149.
National sovereignty is a shield against foreign aggression but it cannot be used as a weapon against one’s own people. There is a difference between national security and security of the government. The 1SA has often been used to safeguard the latter and not the former.
The overall effect of the ISA is that the executive is allowed to play the role of accuser, investigator as well as adjudicator. No government can allow one man to exercise such complete power over another’s life and liberty.
HOW WILL THE NATION COUNTER THE THREAT OF CROSS-BORDER TERRORISM IF THE ISA IS ABOLISHED?
The Government can introduce an Anti-Terrorism Act specifically designed to counter cross-border terrorism. However due process must be incorporated in this legislation to ensure the rights of the individual.
WHY SHOULD I SUPPORT THE MOVEMENT TO ABOLISH THE ISA?
You, your family, your friends are not ‘safe or immune’ from detention under ISA.
A police officer with the rank of Inspector and above can arrest without a warrant and detain you for a period of 60 days with or without ‘good’ reasons for suspicion.
You need to defend your democratic right to freedom of speech, assembly and association as guaranteed by Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.
WHAT CAN I AS AN INDIVIDUAL CITIZEN DO TO SUPPORT THE “NO2ISA” MOVEMENT?
Educate yourself first, then your family, friends and co-workers on the basics of the ISA.
Lobby your MPs and Aduns to pressure the Government to abolish ISA.
Join and contribute to initiatives organised by civil society groups to abolish ISA.
PUTRAJAYA 3 Ogos - Sebahagian individu yang menyertai perhimpunan haram membantah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) di ibu negara, Sabtu lalu dipercayai telah diupah oleh pihak tertentu.
Menteri Penerangan, Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan, Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim berkata, sumber yang diperoleh pihaknya turut mendapati motif perhimpunan bertujuan mengalihkan perhatian rakyat terhadap beberapa kes mahkamah termasuk kes liwat membabitkan Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
''Anak-anak muda yang mengambil bahagian ini secara sinis mengatakan mereka terima upah untuk berarak. Ini agak mengejutkan pihak penganjur kerana mungkin tidak menyangka rahsia mereka akhirnya bocor juga.
''Motif perhimpunan juga mahu mengalih perhatian rakyat terhadap kes mahkamah tertentu dan ini diperoleh daripada maklum balas yang diperoleh ," katanya ketika dihubungi hari ini.
Perhimpunan haram anjuran Gabungan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) itu mengakibatkan orang ramai terperangkap dalam kesesakan jalan raya manakala peniaga menutup premis masing-masing.
Berikutan itu, banyak pihak menuntut tindakan tegas harus dikenakan terhadap dalang di sebalik GMI supaya kejadian tersebut tidak berulang.
AUG 7 — The people of Malaysia comprise three distinctive cultures.
Not the Malays, Chinese and Indians.
A. Those who want change and will fight for it.
B. Those who want change but prefer to watch rather than get involved.
C. Those who are predominantly content and prefer not to change.
Nothing wrong with belonging to any of these cultures.
I personally find myself in group B, and so are quite a lot of others.
We’re all about wanting to see an end to corruption, racism, inequality, flawed justice and greed. But we’re not so immensely affected by it that we feel a need to do too much about it. Except keep abreast on latest developments and perhaps write the occasional note or post a status update on Facebook.
Fair enough, I say.
However, there is a problem with some members of group B that runs slightly contrary to their belief. What I’ve come to notice is that there are some in group B who, despite having the same ideology (wanting change) seem to be annoyed with group A for doing something about it. It would be understandable for group C to be annoyed with group A — after all they have conflicting opinions, but why group B?
Case in point was the recent anti-ISA demonstration over the weekend. Significant efforts and sacrifices were put in by members of group A — risking police beating, incarceration and tear gas in order to make a simple statement: that there are many people who are not happy with the ISA and it should be abolished (not tweaked, not revised, not changed, just abolished).
Lo and behold, it was group B that first started voicing an opinion. Some that I picked up:
Damn you rioters — I was stuck in the longest traffic jam of my life.
Anwar, I admire your efforts but why should everyone suffer the inconvenience.
You people are inconsiderate — my family could have gotten hurt if they were out there shopping.
I’m sorry, I don’t mean to judge. And maybe I speak for only myself when I say that if you fall in group B like me, and you are not making any major sacrifices to elicit change, then the least you could do is make one little sacrifice to sit quietly and not criticise those who are doing something about it.
It’s not asking much. Just put up with this small inconvenience and don’t complain about it. Because the complaining is not helping anyone. It doesn’t help group A, it doesn’t help group C. It’s not providing a solution, it’s just creating another problem.
There’s no denying that all of the criticisms are true — yes, people could have gotten hurt, the situation was frustrating and most didn’t like it. Go ahead and have those feelings, we are all entitled to. But to go out and curse those who lead and participate in the demonstrations and paint them as villains is not doing any good. Because it is these people you will end up thanking when things finally do change.
No battle is won without sacrifice. If we want change, it isn’t going to come easy.
So my message to my fellow group B kinspersons — let those who want to fight go ahead and fight. But for those who prefer to just watch, go ahead and just watch, but please leave your criticisms on silent.
"Tahukah anda, Amerika Syarikat dan Britain turut mempunyai undang-undang pencegahan mereka yang dikenali sebagai Anti Terrorism Act dan Patriot Act. ISA (Malaysia) adalah salah satu undang-undang yang dirujuk oleh mereka."
还有，在《2000年恐怖主义法令》的第41款阐明，警方的扣留时间最长只是四十八小时，它可以在延长七天。即使是如此，延长扣留的申请必须向司法部门——也就是说法院的申请，以获得许可。在申请延长扣留的听审时，被扣留者可以进行合法的抗辩，七天的扣留期目前已经被延长到二十八天。去年，首相布朗（Gordon Brown）要求把扣留期延长至四十二天，上议院院长叫他和他的政府『死远点』（go and fly the proverbial kite）！
Time for the ISA and other old oppressive laws to go
Sunday April 15, 2012
THE repeal of the dreaded Internal Security Act has begun, with more liberal security provisions in the pipeline evolving in the following weeks and months.
Transcending 52 controversial years of the ISA and other outmoded restrictive laws has not come a day too soon. All thoughtful and concerned Malaysians are glad to see the backs of them.
Even if it is argued that laws like the ISA were needed at some previous time, that time is over. Nothing is more necessary than the abolition of a practice whose time is past.
A 21st century Malaysia has outgrown any need for arbitrary and indefinite detentions without trial as determined by unelected agencies.
When the Government of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said last year that it would repeal such laws, sceptics scoffed.
The cynicism was particularly thick among Opposition ranks.
Then, when the Government actually acted as it had pledged, politically motivated cynics went on to claim that the new laws would be as bad or worse.
They would say anything except give credit where it was due, if that credit belonged to their political rivals in Putrajaya.
The sincerity of these cynics can be put to a simple test: would they honestly opt for the return of the ISA and the Emergency Ordinances over the new security laws?
The fact that the authorities were in a bind when contemplating the change testifies to the new provisions representing welcome new changes.
As Najib has acknowledged, it was hard to give up the ISA.
Still, it had to be done in the interest of justice and public opinion.
It is tempting for the authorities everywhere to want to possess as much power with as little accountability as possible, however much that clashes with public interest.
But such undemocratic laws invariably allow and encourage abuse.
Justice needs to be done and seen to be done.
The argument that the ISA helps policing is flawed.
It actually encourages lazy policing and poor enforcement of the law.
Only when policing entails due process and the gathering of material evidence for prosecution, as it lawfully should, does it become a more professional and respected endeavour.
Good governance implies sound political leadership that knows when to abandon which laws.