by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Thursday, May 26, 1994:
Mahathir should reconsider and allow a meaningful and comprehensive review of ISA without any precondition about no abolition of ISA
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed said yesterday that certain provisions of the Internal Security Act would be reviewed, like the period of detention, as the ISA is still needed under certain circumstances and cannot be totally abolished.
I call on Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to reconsider and to allow a meaningful and comprehensive review of the Internal Security Act without any precondition about no abolition of ISA.
It is coming to 35 years since the enactment of the Internal Security Act which was meant to deal with the armed communist insurrection and those dedicated to violence to change society and the political system.
The Barisan Nasional Government should have greater trust and faith in the maturity of Malaysians and allow a full meaningful and comprehensive review of the ISA.
Dr. Mahathir is entitled to his view that the Internal Security Act is still needed and cannot be totally abolished, but is the Government so unsure about its case far the ISA that it cannot allow the country to conduct a full, meaningful and com¬prehensive review of the ISA, including a full public debate as to whether detention without trial laws should he perpetuated 35 years after Merdeka and 26 years before Vision 2020?
Let there be a thorough review of all the thousands of people who had been detained under the ISA since 1960, to decide whether such detentions were justified or were abuses of power.
Together with Anwar Ibrahim, there are 16 MPs from both government and the opposition who are former ISA detainees. I was twice detained under the ISA, once in 1969 and. the second time during Operation Lalang in 1987.
Neither Anwar nor the other 15 MPs had advocated violence to change Malaysian society or the political system and the use of the ISA was clearly most uncalled for and unwarranted.
I am not bitter about my two TSA detentions. I be¬lieve Anwar Ibrahim is also not bitter about his ISA experience. But this is different from saying that Anwar’s ISA detention or my two ISA detentions were justified and warranted.
If the Government cannot even trust Malaysians with a full review of the ISA, then what Vision 2020 are we talking about?
This is why there should be a full, comprehensive and meaningful review of the ISA by all concerned Malaysians and interested organisations like the Bar Council – and not just the Home Ministry or a committee of the National Security Council.
Similarly, Malaysians should also extend the review to all undemocratic legislation which give Malaysia a bad name and image in the world on democracy and human rights.