Malaysian opposition gears up to abolish preventive laws

May 1st, 2008 - 12:00 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, May 1 (IANS) Malaysia’s opposition alliance has said it would move a motion for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA) under which many people have been detained. Opposition Leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail reiterated Wednesday what her husband and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim had recently said: if brought to power, the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat would end the ISA and other preventive laws

Wan Ismail joined various human rights groups that have urged the government to end the laws.

The government has, however, said the laws were required to maintain public order and cites such laws in operation in several countries like the US and Britain.

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and the Human Rights Committee (HRC) of the Bar Council issued a joint memorandum to urge all MPs to lobby for the abolishment of the act, The Star newspaper said.

Together with them were the family members of ISA detainees who also appeared at a press conference Wednesday. But the newspaper did not name the family members.

Five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) that organised a protest rally attended by over 10,000 Tamils last November are among the ISA detainees.

The government has justified their detention on the ground that the five - M. Manoharan, 46, P. Uthayakumar, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 34, R. Kengadharan, 40, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34 - were trying to destabilise the ethnic balance in society and had suspected terror links.

The government said it has detained more of the Islamist militants under the ISA.

In the memorandum, the groups called for immediate and unconditional release of all ISA detainees and prosecute them in a public and fair trial.

Human rights activist Amer Hamzah Arshad said it was internationally recognised that the detention of people without trial was in violation of the rule of law, human rights and the principles of democratic government.

“While the government is obliged to ensure peace and security of the country, it is not permitted to do so at the expense of basic principles of human rights and natural justice,” he said.

Arshad said the memorandum also called for immediate closure of all detention camps where detainees were held without trial.

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