by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 23rd September 1994:
Cabinet decision not to air Ashaari Muhamad’s ‘confession’ on television raises the question as to its truth or accuracy.
The Cabinet decision not to air the ‘confession’ of the leader of the banned al-Arqam, Ashaari Muhamad over television raises the question as to the truth or accuracy of the claim by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, that Ashaari had confessed that he had deviated from the teachings of Islam.
If it is true that Ashaari had confessed that he had deviated from the teachings of Islam, then he should be released from detention under the Internal Security Act and be allowed to repent or face charges in court under the ordinary laws of the land.
Having been twice detained under the Internal Security Act, I am very skeptical about claims of ‘confessions’ extracted from ISA detainees.
In fact, even ‘confessions’ aired over television by ISA detainees are highly dubious in value for they could have been extracted under duress or coercion and not made voluntarily or willingly.
In the 1970s, two ISA detainees went on television to make their ‘confessions’ to justify the government using the ISA against them, but both these detainees disowned, their ‘confessions’ after their release.
These two ISA detainees were none other than Datuk Abdullah Ahmad, who was former Deputy Minister when he was de¬tained, and Samad Ismail, veteran journalist who was recently honoured with the Magsaysay Award for Journalism and whose Magsaysay lecture in Manila on press freedom must have shocked all journalists and his admirers in Malaysia.
When he was in Bangkok, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim belaboured the point that Ashaari Muhamed and the other al-Arqam leaders had not been formally detained without trial under the ISA, and that they-were only being detained for police investigation purposes.
Is Anwar Ibrahim suggesting that Ashaari and the other al-Arqam leaders would only be detained for a maximum period of sixty days for purposes of police investigations and would not be formally detained under the ISA, where a detainee would be de¬tained for two years and which could be extended indefinitely?
Anwar Ibrahim had advocated the review of the Internal Security Act after becoming Deputy Prime Minister.
Anwar Ibrahim should explain what has happened to this high-level government review of the ISA since the ISA is now again being used in a massive manner. Has the Government abandoned all review of the ISA?
Would Anwar Ibrahim agree that it is only fair and just that Ashaari and the other al-Arqam leaders should be re¬leased under the ISA, and be charged in an open court under the ordinary laws of the land and be given a chance to defend them¬selves?