ISA, Police Act amendments to include freedom of assembly

(The Malaysian Insider) The government will table amendments to the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Police Act during the next Parliamentary sitting, with changes in the laws to include the freedom to assemble in specific areas without the need for a permit.

Home Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein said today that among other provisions that may be relaxed is the initial 60 days detention period of the ISA.

The amendments are part of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promised reforms.

But it is likely to fall short of demands from the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and other activists who want the ISA repealed.

“There may be only time to hold a first reading in October but hopefully the amendments can be debated by the end of the year,” said the minister

Hishammuddin denied claims that the law, which was passed in order to counter the threat of the communist insurgency in the 1960s, had ever been abused.

However he said each provision of the ISA is being reviewed along with other restrictive laws and the Police Act, in order to make them more relevant in today’s landscape.

He pointed out the ISA was still relevant and cited the example of the prevention of terrorism.

The Home Minster was speaking to the press today after chairing a special meeting on national security issues with Minster in the Prime Minster’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz and Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim.

He added the government is considering holding an “aggressive” nationwide campaign to explain their stand in reviewing the ISA and their determination not to abolish the controversial law, which allows detention without trial.

The planned campaign will provide a comprehensive explanation on the various provisions of the ISA, so people will understand the law is not draconian or used arbitrarily.

He said the awareness campaign is to inform the people that the government was serious in overcoming the weaknesses in the ISA and were moving to ensure there is no room for the law to be abused, to prevent further allegations.

“We want the people to understand that the ISA is a preventive law to protect the country and its multiracial communities.”

When asked if the ISA would still be used against politicians, he said the Home Ministry had been consistent and used the law against any threat to national security and stability.

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