Hisham defends meeting with Perkasa


(The Malay Mail) Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has defended meeting Malay rights group Perkasa over the abolishing of the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960.

Yesterday Perkasa met with the minister to hand over a memorandum on the group’s demands relating to the two new laws replacing the ISA.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had announced during his Malaysia Day address the government would repeal the Act and introduce two new laws during the next parliamentary sitting.

Hishammuddin denied he was politically biased by meeting Perkasa and explained the ministry had met other groups as well.

“I am meeting with all the groups and not only Perkasa. We have been engaging with the Bar Council when we were looking at the amendments. So there’s nothing peculiar about meeting Perkasa.

“I felt that it is important that Perkasa understands where we are going forward. What our content is and what we are striving for,” he said during a Press conference.

He added Perkasa’s perspective was important in formulating the new laws.

“It (abolishing the ISA) is something we will do without fear or favour but we need to balance it with the bigger national interest and the views of groups and NGOs will become very useful to us,” he said.

Hishammuddin also stressed Perkasa had been very “rational” in its approach and warned the issue should not be politicised.

Hishammuddin’s meeting is bound to draw flak from the public as the Malayrights group had been very vocal about protecting the draconian Act.

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali had recently said the group would reject the new laws if it did not retain the “preventive spirit” of the old Act.

“We want preventive elements to be retained because two aspects of the ISA — prevention and rehabilitation — had been most effective in tackling security issues in the country,” he reportedly said.

Utusan Malaysia had also called on the government to preserve the role of the ISA in the new laws.

“Surely, if the United States had to resort to enforcing laws allowing detention without trial, (Malaysia’s) new (anti-terrorism) laws to be enacted soon should also play the role of the ISA, which is to protect the peace and security of the country,” wrote its senior news editor Zulkefli Hamzah in his column.

Yesterday, Ibrahim told reporters the group had in its memorandum, proposed the government establish a high-powered committee to bypass the courts to decide on who should be detained without trial.

“If we use the court system, it will take a long time.

“It is better if we set up this high-powered committee, comprising the police chief, Attorney-General, Suhakam and anyone else who is credible.”