Sorry Datuk, I have misunderstood the ISA!

Art Harun

Finally, I am in agreement with an UMNO leader. On the issue of the Internal Security Act, no less. In a Malaysian Insider report titled "Mukhriz defends ISA, says it's misunderstood", Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir has apparently lamented that the public has failed to see the benefit of the ISA. He was quoted as saying:

The people cannot really see the benefits from ISA but if we realise that we are able to send our children to school and shop safely then we can see that all of these are from a government policy to provide protection to the people.”

One of the people whom Datuk Mukhriz was unknowingly referring to was, I must say, myself. Over the weekend I was thinking about what Datuk Mukhriz has said. And today, Monday the 3rd of August 2009, I conclude that all these while I have been a stupid Malaysian. I have been wrong all these while. Yes. I have to confess. I have misunderstood the ISA. Datuk Mukhriz, I bow in all humility to your wisdom and I must say I am not worth it. I am sorry.

All these while, I thought that a citizen's liberty is guaranteed by our Federal Constitution. And as I understood it, the Federal Constitution says that a citizen's liberty cannot be taken away other than in accordance with the due process of the law. And of course the law says that a person cannot be sent to prison until he or she has been found guilty by the Court and sentenced to imprisonment. That was what I understood.

I understood this from a year learning the Malaysian Constitution. And from another year of learning Comparative Constitutional Law where I studied the Indian, English and American Constitution. And another year learning Administrative law. Also from a year of learning the subject of politics.

As I understood it too, when the ISA was debated in the Parliament, Tunku Abdul Rahman, our first Prime Minister as well as our Father of Independence, said this: