The ISA is not Comparable to the Patriot Act (USA) and the Terrorism Acts (UK)

Art Harun

Ever so often, when the subject of the ISA and the various abuses of the ISA are brought up, leading to calls for the abolishment of the ISA, the Government, through various Ministers, spokespersons of some NGOs (which seem to grow like poisonous mushrooms after an afternoon shower nowadays), some UMNO leaders or whoever would remind us that even the USA and UK have preventive detention legislation.

This morning, my friend e mailed me a link to a poll on whether the ISA should be abolished at the Home Ministry web site. I quickly went to the said web site to cast my vote.

There are 5 questions posed to the visitors with 3 possible answers given to each of the question. As of this morning, 89% think the ISA is draconian. 93% say they know what the ISA is about. And 93% say that the ISA ought to be abolished.

The 5th question is reproduced below:

"Tahukah anda, Amerika Syarikat dan Britain turut mempunyai undang-undang pencegahan mereka yang dikenali sebagai Anti Terrorism Act dan Patriot Act. ISA (Malaysia) adalah salah satu undang-undang yang dirujuk oleh mereka."

Loosely translated, it says:

"Do you know, the USA and Britain also have preventive (detention) legislation known as the Anti-Terrorism Act and Patriot Act. ISA (Malaysia) is among the law which was referred by them."

Well, first of all, there is no such thing as an Anti Terrorism Act, whether in the USA or Britain. There is however the Terrorism Act in Britain, either the year 2000 or 2006 Acts. So which one is the Home Ministry referring to?

Secondly, the question is just another example of the "Syiok Sendiri Syndrome" (or in short, "The 3 Asses"). Since when has the USA's Senate House or House of Representative referred to the ISA while thinking about, drafting, debating or passing the Patriot Act? And I doubt whether the House of Commons or House of Lords in the UK referred to the ISA while debating the Terrorism Act.