Wrong to say ISA not up to standard — Rais

(Bernama) – The misconception that the Internal Security Act (ISA) is not up to the standard of humanity is wrong, said newly-appointed Information, Communication, Art and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim today.

He said there was a process of habeas corpus where the operation of law operated on the person detained under the ISA, to apply to court and prove himself free from all blame against him.

“But that part has not been described by anybody. The mechanism that we have under the ISA, specifically Section 8 and 73, can be challenged through the process of habeas corpus, which system is also prevalent here, and therefore, to say that the ISA is not up to the standard of humanity is wrong,” he said during an interview on talkshow “Hardtalk'” aired by BBC.

On why the law allowed indefinite detention without charge or trial, Rais replied that it was not indefinite as the Malaysian Government used a 60-day detention period, (just) like the Terrorism Act in Britian where suspects were held in detention for up to 21 days.

The former foreign minister was also asked on the detention of blogger-cum-journalist Raja Petra Kamaruddin.

He explained that the blogger was detained not because he was a terrorist but on the grounds that he was prejudicial to the security of the law in the country.

Asked whether the ISA would be reformed or repealed, Rais said he believed that at one point, the act would gradually develop into something which would be more compatible with the allowances demanded by the international community.

“The ISA was a graduation from the 1948 law given by the British…at that time, Malaya was subject to the guerrilla war, the environment at that time, so it has developed into a system where it now became questionable to many people.

“We will take that challenge and we will gradually work it out to a point where the ISA must be amended at one point in the future,” he said.

On Umno, Rais said that although there were certain defects in the party, the mechanism of improvement was there.

“Not all things are excellent inside, but (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad, our former prime minister is coming back to the party to help, not to be engaged in executive function,” he said.

He also dismissed talk that the sodomy charge against PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was one of Umno’s way to deal with its opponents.

On the New Economic Policy which was said to be more favourable to the Malays, Rais said Malaysia’s current prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would take the best possible way to handle the matter.