Half a century on, Putrajaya still mulls ISA reforms

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — It came as a shock to many when Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced last year that the Internal Security Act (ISA) was going to be amended, in effect making room for more reforms for a law considered “draconian” by many parties.

The opposition, namely Pakatan Rakyat (PR), have used the issue of the repressive laws of the ISA against the federal government and have milked it for maximum political gain.

Today marks the 50th year of the ISA, but any concrete action towards reform has yet to be undertaken by the Najib Administration.

The proposals for reforms, which was scheduled to be tabled during the last Parliamentary sitting, has been postponed until the next sitting on October 11.

“It was supposed to be tabled in the last Parliament sitting, but we were not able to do so. Hopefully we will be able to do so in the next sitting, on October 11,” said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

Liew told The Malaysian Insider last night that the proposed list of reforms decided by the Home Ministry will have three points of focus.

“There are three aspects here — restricting the length of detention, limiting the power of the police when it comes to arrests as it will be subject to the scrutiny of the Home Minister, and limiting the powers of the Home Minister,” said Liew.

Liew said that the last time the Ministry had had any discussions on ISA reforms was earlier this year shortly before the last Parliament sitting.

But he was non-committal when asked whether the government would be successfully in implementing the suggested amendments at the next sitting.

“The final decision lies with the Home Minister. We can table it, but we will have to see what happens then,” added Liew.

Hishammuddin had said last year that the government was in the “final stages” of revising the Act.