ISA detention down to 30 days

By Joseph Kaos Jr., The Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR: The number of days allowed by law for detention without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) will be reduced to 30 days from 60 days, said de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (pic).

Speaking to The Malay Mail at Parliament yesterday, Nazri said the government felt 60 days was too long for a suspect to be detained.

“Sixty is the number of days currently allowed by law and we want to reduce it to 30,” said the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

Nazri said the reduction would help speed up investigations.

“Currently, if a suspect is held for 60 days, the investigation unit will take their time in their probe. Only when it is nearing 60 days will they start their work,” he said.

“We don’t want a person to be detained longer than required.”

The proposed reduction is just one of the few changes expected in the upcoming ISA amendments, currently in its final stages of approval.

Other provisions which would be amended are the definition of an offence; usage of the ISA for political purposes; treatment of detainees and their families; and power of the Home Minister.

The ISA review was one of the first reforms promised by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak after succeeding Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in April last year.

Meanwhile, Nazri lambasted the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute for criticising Malaysia’s use of the ISA and calling for its abolishment.

“I can say this to the International Bar Council: No way. We are not going to abolish the ISA,” said the Padang Rengas MP who is also a lawyer by profession.

“The ISA has been a useful instrument and it shall remain. To me, what is important is peace and stability of the country. We must prevent any loss of lives due to terrorism. These are more important issues than the freedom of a person we consider a threat to the country.

“It is okay for the International Bar Association to have their own opinion. They can make armchair criticisms all they want but they don’t run this country. These people are not important and they don’t live here. I don’t care about them. I only care about Malaysians.”

The international lawyers group had claimed Malaysia’s use of the ISA curtailed an individual’s right of defence.