Malaysia to amend, not repeal, ‘draconian’ detention lawAugust 2nd, 2009 - 3:04 pm ICT by IANS
Kuala Lumpur, Aug 2 (IANS) The Malaysian government Sunday said it would amend, but not repeal, the Internal Security Act (ISA) — the preventive detention law the opposition considers draconian.
The government said it would amend the Act but provisions pertaining to national security would be retained after thousands of protesters defied police restrictions and staged demonstrations at several places in the national capital Saturday, demanding that the law be repealed.
Police used water cannons to disperse protesters and detained 238 demonstrators.
Prior to the protests, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had Friday said that there was no point in holding rallies when the process to amend the law was under discussion.
The amendment might be effected in the next sitting of Dewan Rakyat, the country’s parliament, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times Online.
But this would depend on when a study carried out by legal officers and discussions with interested groups was completed.
“If they do not agree with the proposed amendment, we will give them more time before tabling the bill,” he said.
The minister said he had received a draft of the bill and regretted that the opposition chose to stage an anti-ISA demonstration in the capital Saturday.
The government had promised to amend the ISA and any demand should be made through negotiations and not by street protests or riots, he added.
ISA is a sensitive issue between the government, the opposition and the civil society.
The government has used the law to curb Islamist militancy, detaining key members of the fundamentalist Jemmah Islamiah.
In 2007, it detained five top leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) that claims to articulate the long-standing grievances of Malaysia’s two million ethnic Indian population.
Charged with sedition, the five — S. Kengadharan, P. Uthaikumar, Vasanthkumar, Ganabatirau and legislator M. Manoharan — were released earlier this year by the prime minister as “a conciliatory gesture”.
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Tags: aug 2, demonstrators, dewan rakyat, ethnic indian population, grievances, hindu rights action force hindraf, home minister, interested groups, internal security act, islamiah, malaysian government, militancy, najib tun razak, new straits times, new straits times online, preventive detention, sedition, sensitive issue, street protests, water cannons