By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 17th June 1990:
DAP calls on Mahathir to prove that the arrest of three Sabahans not politically-motivated by charging them in open court instead of detaining them under the ISA
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said yesterday that the arrest of three Sabahans under the Internal Security Act for alleged involvement in a plot to pull Sabah out of Malaysia was not politically-motivated.
It this is the case, then I call on Dr. Mahathir to prove it by charging the three Sabahans in open court under the ordinary laws of the country, instead o detaining them under the ISA.
Having been detained twice under the Internal Security Act myself, and on both occasions purely for political motivations, it is difficult for the Prime Minister to convince me or in this case, the majority of Sabahans that the detention of Benedict Topin, the Kasazan-Dusun Cultural Association executive secretary, ex-police detective Damit Undikai and ex-policeman Albinus Yudah are not politically-motivated.
When I met the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar, in Bukit Aman yesterday, I also pressed for the three Sabahans to be charged in open court, where they would have the chance to defend themselves, instead of the use of the Internal Security Act with its detention-without-trial provisions.
I also raised with Tan Sri Haniff the bad treatment received by the families of Benedict and Albinus, who had tried to see and visit Benedict and Albinus.
When they were in Kuala Lumpur, they were promised that they would be allowed to visit Benedict and Albinus for one to two hours, but in actual fact, they were allowed 15 minutes. They were promised that they would be allowed a second visit before they had to return to Sabah, but at the last minute, this second visit was denied them.
I asked that the police should allow the families of the three Sabahans detained under the ISA to have regular visits from their families. Tan Sri Haniff appeared sympathetic and promised to look into the matter. I hope that the families of their next visit to their loves one in the next few days.
Call on Dr. Mahathir to issue a White Paper to explain why there are 88 persons detained under the Internal Security Act.
In reply to my parliamentary question, Dr. Mahathir revealed that there are 88 persons currently detained under the Internal Security Act.
This is a very big figure and I call on Dr. Mahathir
Although the government has powers under the ISA to detain people without trial, a democratic government is still accountable the people to explain why there are so many people detained without trial, for this is a blot on the human rights record of the country.
The ISA does not mean that the government does not have to account to the people for its widespread use of such extraordinary powers to deal with extraordinary circumstances.
I hope Dr. Mahathir would concede the principle that the government must account to the people for its use of the ISA to detain people without trial, and does not regard the ISA as power for the government to spirit people away in secret detention centres without public knowledge or accountability.
For this reason, I call on Dr. Mahathir to present a White Paper to explain why the government has to detain 88 persons under the ISA at present.