Preventive laws ‘unacceptable’, says Malaysian minister

April 29th, 2008 - 4:35 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 29 (IANS) Striking a note at variance with his government’s stance, a Malaysian minister agrees with the opposition and the legal fraternity that the Internal Security Act (ISA) is unacceptable. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Zaid Ibrahim, also a prominent lawyer, said: “I am against any unjust and harsh law, and ISA and OSA (Official Secrets Act) are unacceptable to me.”

“In fact, I have stated my stand (on these laws) in my books,” the de facto law minister of the country told the Nanyang Siang Pau newspaper.

Five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), who organised a protest rally last November, are among the ISA detainees serving two-year terms. The ISA has been labelled draconian by the opposition and much of the legal fraternity.

Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar had justified the detention of the five Hindraf leaders, saying that more Islamist militants of the Jemaah Islamia had also been held by the government “to maintain public order”.

Ibrahim’s line runs counter to what Albar had said last Saturday - that preventive laws such as the ISA would not be abolished as they were needed for the purpose of maintaining public order.

He said countries such as the United States and Britain had also introduced such preventive laws.

“It (ISA) is not for the purpose of carrying out injustice but to protect the public’s right to live in comfort without fearing for their lives,” Albar had said in response to a claim by opposition leader and former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim that the opposition alliance, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would abolish preventive laws should they rule the country.

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