KUALA LUMPUR, 18 Oct 2008: The government has no plans to review the Internal Security Act (ISA) despite strong calls by two Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties, the MCA and Gerakan, at their annual general assemblies.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said there would be no review of the ISA as he was focused on three bills to set up a judicial appointments commission, an independent anti-corruption commission, and a special complaints commission on law enforcement officers.
“At the moment, I am concentrating on three bills to table in Parliament. So I am not dealing with the subject of the ISA at the moment,” he said at a press conference after opening the 55th MCA annual general assembly today.
The three bills Abdullah is pushing through are part of his list of reforms before he steps down as Umno president, and by extension, as prime minister, in March 2009.
Out of date
In his speech today, outgoing MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting called for the government to review the ISA. The Act, enacted in 1960 to deal with the Emergency, allows for indefinite detention without trial.
Ong also suggested that it was out of date, as the communist threat for which the Act was meant to counter, no longer existed.
Last weekend, the Gerakan annual general assembly also made a similar call, and passed a resolution for the ISA to be replaced with a specific law to counter terrorists.
Asked if reviewing the ISA could be part of his reforms, Abdullah said reforming the law would not exonerate those who have been detained under the ISA for the wrong they had done.
“Reforms do not mean that…whatever wrongs done, are no longer wrong. That is not the way.”
He said that while there were no plans to review or amend the Act, what was more important was that it was used wisely.
“This is a law that must be used carefully so that there is absolutely no abuse of power. That is more important.”
He noted that other countries were also using similar laws, citing the US and Britain.
Abdullah declined to answer a question as to whether his successor, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, would review the law once he became the new prime minister.
The MCA annual general assembly tomorrow is expected to pass a resolution calling for the ISA to be reviewed and for a check and balance mechanism to be adopted in its use.
Both the MCA’s Youth and Wanita wings also passed resolutions on the same matter at their respective assemblies yesterday.