Dr M didn’t support scrapping ISA, says Anwar

By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has disputed Tun Hanif Omar’s claim that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had wanted to scrap the Internal Security Act (ISA), saying today the former prime minister had never discussed it openly or in party meetings.

The country’s longest-serving national police chief had claimed today that both Dr Mahathir and Anwar had wanted the ISA abolished but the police had objected to the proposal.

“Mahathir has never supported any amendments or to scrap the ISA when I was there, whether openly or at party meetings. Tun Hanif Omar may have had some meetings in private with Mahathir but I am not aware of that fact,” Anwar (picture) told reporters during a break in his ongoing Sodomy II trial at the Kuala Lumpur High Court here.

Dr Mahathir had also claimed today that he had wanted to abolish the ISA when serving as prime minister but had faced opposition from the police.

The 1960 security law allows for detention without trial and a 1989 amendment under Dr Mahathir’s rule removed the option for judicial review, granting the home minister absolute discretion to extend or reduce detention time.

Hanif, who served as the police chief for 20 years until 1994, said the issue was first raised by Anwar at a security briefing prior to his retirement from the service.

“Anwar said we should abolish ISA, Dr Mahathir said OK,” recounted Hanif at a forum on parliamentary democracy here.

He said he later urged the two leaders to reconsider their plans, and suggested they merely review the security law.

Opposition Leader Anwar said today he raised the issue at a National Security Council meeting after he entered government in 1982. He claimed to have mooted a proposal to scrap the ISA but it was rejected by the Attorney-General and Hanif, who was the IGP then.

The Permatang Pauh MP added that he tried to resurrect it in the 1990s when he became deputy prime minister.

“If we can’t scrap it, why not revise it to amend some provisions to allow for appeal purposes? If you check the Hansard, it should show that when I was DPM I had said that we are willing to study and amend the ISA but it was not taken up because it had to be taken up by the home minister,” he said, referring to Dr Mahathir, who held the portfolio at the time.