by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Wednesday, 25th May 1994:
DAP welcomes government review of ISA and calls for meaningful and comprehensive review to repeal all undemocratic legislation to make Malaysia a model for democracy and human rights not only in developing countries but the world
DAP welcomes the announcement yesterday by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, that the Internal Security Act will be reviewed to suit the country’s peaceful climate.
Anwar told reporters yesterday: “There were some good reasons when the Government introduced the Act .. at a time when we were facing the communist insurgency and racial and religious extremists. However, since the situation has improved, we should review the Act.”
Anwar said committee of the National Security Council was studying the provisions which needed to be reviewed.
DAP calls for a meaningful and comprehensive review to repeal all undemocratic legislation to make Malaysia a model for democracy and human rights not only in developing countries, but also in the world.
For such a review to be meaningful and comprehensive, three conditions must be met:
Firstly, the review must involve not just the National Security Council but all political parties and opinion-makers in the country;
Secondly, the review must be meaningful and intensive. For example, when reviewing the ISA, the central question must be whether detention with trial laws should be repealed, rather than to tinker with provisions like the Advisory Board which is empowered to consider appeal petitions by ISA detainees;
Thirdly, the review must be comprehensive and extensive – and not just confined to the ISA, but to all other laws which had taken away the fundamental liberties of Malaysians as enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution such as freedom of expres¬sion, opinion, information, publication, peaceful assembly, etc.
Anwar Ibrahim has the distinction of being the first Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia who was a former ISA detainee, and he should realise better than others of the injustice of the ISA.
There are at present at least l6 MPs from both the Government and Opposition who were ex-ISA detainees.
Probably, the Government should involve all MPs who were ex-ISA detainees in the review not only of the Internal Security Act, but all other undemocratic legislation to put Malaysia firmly on the highway of democratisation.