ISA: Umno, BN mengata sesama sendiri

Posted by Penarik Beca Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wrong use of ISA: De facto law minister
The Star (14/9/08): The Internal Security Act (ISA) should not be used against civilians, de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said.

The Act should only be used against terrorists or those trying to topple the Government by force, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said at a press conference at his home here on Sunday.

He was commenting on the arrests of three people -- Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kama­rudin and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng -- under the ISA.

Tan has since been released.

“I will seek a meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to have a frank discussion about this issue to seek his views as soon as possible,” he told reporters.

“I know I am breaking rank here ... I am prepared to face the consequences. If I am to resign, I will do so.

"I am not a trouble maker and I don't want to cause any trouble for the Prime Minister, but I have my principles and will always be a vocal critic of the use of the ISA," he added.
Explain arrests, cops told
The Star (14/9/08): The police should explain to the public why they made three recent arrests using the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said: “I think it’s necessary for them to explain the rationale for those arrests.

“I don’t think it’s suitable for politicians to comment. I would prefer the police to answer,” he said after attending the All Malaysian Solidarity Lantern Carnival here yesterday.

He said this when asked to comment on Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s statement that Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng was arrested under ISA on Friday for her own safety.

Two others arrested were Malaysia Today news portal editor Raja Petra Kamarudin and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok.

Asked if the arrest of Tan, who was released yesterday, would affect the freedom of the press in Malaysia, Shabery replied that Malaysia always had press freedom.

“Everyone can do these things freely. The action taken was not because of the press, but because there have been things which were thought to threaten the safety or harmony between the different communities,” he said.

In Kota Baru, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said those detained on Friday had themselves to blame because they chose to ignore racial and religious sensitivities of the country.

Dr Ahmad, a former ISA detainee himself, now defends the Act in the context of a greater good, as he now realised the benefits of the Act which allows detention without trial for a stipulated period.

He also lambasted those who wanted to use religious principles to justify whether the ISA was Islamic or not, adding that they must differentiate between what was criminal, civil and syariah laws.

He assured the families of those detained now that the safety of their loved ones was of utmost priority to the Government.
Act cannot be used to ‘protect’ detainee, says Liow
The Star (14/9/08): The Internal Security Act 1960 should never be used for protecting a person, MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said.

He said if Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng’s safety was threatened as claimed, the police should have given her special protection and not arrested her under the ISA.

“It is not a clever excuse,” he said in a statement.

He was commenting on Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s explanation that Tan was arrested under Section 73(1) of the Act because her safety was under threat.

Tan was arrested on Friday evening.

The wing’s secretary-general Dr Wee Ka Siong said there was no justification for Tan’s detention.

“We are disappointed as the person who made the remark was not arrested but the person who reported the matter was arrested,” he said after meeting the Perak MCA Youth members here yesterday.

Wanita MCA chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said the party has been pressing for a review of the ISA to check abuses and confusion.

“The ISA must be used only for national security with the confidence of all Malaysians. But, if the ISA is seen to create a lack of confidence and confusion among Malaysians, then the Government must review it,” she said after attending a Seberang Prai MCA delegates conference in Bukit Tengah in Butterworth yesterday.

MCA vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat said the country did not need to resort to the ISA to detain Kok and Raja Petra. He said the country had sufficient legal means to maintain law and order without having to use the ISA.

“If they had carried out any misdeeds that infringed any laws, they should be prosecuted in the court of law.

“This logic applies to all Malaysians, irrespective of race, creed and religion,” he said in a posting on his blog (www.ongteekeat.net) yesterday.

Penang MCA deputy chief Lau Chiek Tuan said the MCA would “protest loudly” over Tan’s arrest.

Former vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said MCA ministers must bring up the matter in Cabinet to show that MCA was concerned with what had happened to Tan.

Former party vice-president Datuk Chua Jui Meng said he was dismayed at Tan’s arrest since she “did the nation a favour by exposing racism.”
MCA leaders protest trio's ISA detention
NST (14/9/08): Party president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said yesterday journalists, especially, should not be detained under the ISA.

Its vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat said the country has sufficient legal means to maintain law and order and does not need to resort to the ISA.

"If they had perpetrated any misdeeds or infringed any laws, then they should be prosecuted in a court of law.

"This logic applies to all Malaysians, irrespective of race, creed and religion," he said on his blog, referring to the detention of Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin.

However, Tan was released from detention less than 24 hours after she was picked up from her home by a group of 10 police officers on Friday night.

MCA Wanita chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said the government must respond to public demands for a review and possible abolition of the ISA, which she said was open to "improper implementation".

"Malaysia is a government by the people for the people. Therefore, we should listen."

However, Dr Ng called for calm and wisdom, stressing that Malaysians must not allow the seeds of anger and disappointment to enable opportunists to create national unrest.

MCA Youth secretary-general Dr Wee Ka Siong questioned the rationale for arresting the journalist when the "individual who uttered the racist remarks" had not been picked up.

"The incident has a big implication on the community as we want to maintain peace and harmony in the country."

Meanwhile, DAP chairman Karpal Singh said police should not have used the ISA on the trio and action could have been taken against them according to other laws. Raja Petra could be prosecuted under the Sedition Act, Teresa Kok could be charged under the Penal Code and Tan Hoon Cheng could be prosecuted under the Printing Presses and Publications Act.
MCA: Don’t use ISA on newsmen
The Star (14/9/08): The MCA is against the use of Internal Security Act (ISA) on any journalist.

Party president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said journalists were just carrying out their duties and should not be detained under the Act.

While welcoming the release of Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng, Ong said the party could not accept what had occurred as it felt it was inappropriate for the ISA to be used on any journalists.

“Journalists are merely reporting the news.

“They should not be detained under ISA for carrying out their duties,” he told a press conference after opening the Perak MCA convention at Syuen Hotel here yesterday.

After learning of the arrest of the Sin Chew reporter, Ong said he had immediately discussed the matter with the party leadership.

He then conveyed the public and party’s views and feelings to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“The party leaders told me that I have their backing and they were with me.

“We have principles and we are standing by them. We are drawing a clear line that the MCA is against the use of ISA on any journalist, more so in this case,” he said.

Earlier in his speech, Ong called on members to give their unwavering support to the party’s new leadership which would be elected next month.

Urging members not to be demoralised by the results of the recent general election, Ong said what was important was for members to stay united.

“Everyone should be selfless and put the party above themselves,” he added.

MCA secretary-general Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said MCA had voiced the concerns and frustration of the people over the use of the ISA on Tan for the sake of the country.

“We are not trying to put the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Umno in a difficult position.

“We are staying under the same roof of Barisan,” he said in his opening speech at the convention.

He said the party was voicing out the truth and no one should question its sincerity over the matter.

Ka Chuan, who is Perak MCA chairman, stressed that it was important for the Barisan component parties to stay united.

“The Pakatan Rakyat’s plan to take over the Government on Sept 16 is merely a lie.

“But if the Barisan itself keeps creating issues and problems, the collation will collapse by itself,” he said.
Koh: Amend or abolish ISA
NST (14/9/08): He said the act painted a negative perception of the country to the outside world, adding that it was also irrelevant, considering the country had a sound judicial system.

"It is time the government looks at this act. Gerakan urges the government to abolish the ISA," he said after opening the state Gerakan convention here.

"There is no reason why anyone should be subject to the provisions of this act, which simply means detention without trial, when the authorities can use the judicial system instead."

Koh said the judicial system was far more transparent from the legal and social aspects compared with the ISA.

"When you detain someone under the ISA, it gives room for people to draw all kinds of conclusions and provides room for manipulation.

"Gerakan is against taking action against the press as this is against the freedom of expression which is provided for under the Federal Constitution."

Referring to former Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, Koh said it was ironic that the "man who burnt down the house was still free, while the person who cried fire" had been detained.

"The minute we heard about the reporter's detention, I called the prime minister and his deputy to express Gerakan's disappointment."

Koh said Gerakan was also against the detention of Seputeh member of parliament Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin.

"If they have done anything wrong, use the legal system to seek justice. Give the alleged wrongdoers a trial and if they are found guilty, punish them."

Earlier, he said Gerakan was reevaluating its role in the present and future politics of the country.

On whether there were plans for the party to leave Barisan Nasional, he said the matter would be discussed in detail. He said what was important now was for all parties to strengthen multiracialism in the country and not harp on racial issues.
Koh: Enough laws to safeguard security
The Star (14/9/08): Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon was among several Barisan Nasional leaders who have urged the Go­­vernment to review the Internal Se­­curity Act as it was no longer relevant.

Dr Koh said he did not understand why the ISA needed to be invoked, noting that there were many laws to ensure that the nation’s security was not compromised.

“It is better to let the courts decide if a person was guilty of an offence he was accused of rather than detaining him without trial,” he told reporters after opening the state Gerakan’s 33rd assembly in Seremban yesterday.

He was commenting on the detention of Malaysia Today news portal editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Selangor senior executive councillor and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng under the ISA on Friday. Tan was released yesterday.

Thanking the Government for the release of Tan, Dr Koh said the au­­thorities should also immediately release Kok and Raja Petra. MIC president Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said he had appealed to the Prime Minister to release Tan, adding: “By releasing her, certain elements wil not blame the Government for curtailing press freedom. She is only a young reporter who reported what was said.”
Opposition slams ‘ridiculous’ reason for using ISA
The Star (14/9/08): Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s statement that Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng had been arrested “to ensure her safety” was “downright ridiculous”.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said Parliament had to meet to amend the Internal Security Act (ISA) to provide for such a “new provision to protect the safety of reporters”.

“If not, that is not the purpose of the ISA,” he said.

He added that there had been no basis for Tan’s detention, and that the other two detainees – Malaysia Today news portal editor Raja Petra Kama­rudin and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok – should be “released immediately and unconditionally.”

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was also present at the press conference, stated that the Home Minister “cannot protect Malaysians by detaining them.”

He also said the DAP was very upset with Kok’s arrest as she was “a duly-elected representative, an MP, and a state assemblyman.”

PAS secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaafar also condemned the arrest of the three individuals under the ISA “in the strongest terms”.

Kok’s lawyer S. Sankara Nair said he was refused permission to see Kok, who has been held at the Wangsa Maju police station since Saturday night.

Sankara said he managed to see Kok from outside the police station gates together with DAP members of Parliament Tan Kok Wai and Gobind Singh Deo. She appeared to be in good spirits despite her arrest.

“She remained cheerful and waved to us from the police station compound,” he said.

Gobind, who is also the party’s legal bureau chairman, said the DAP would submit a habeas corpus application to the court for her release in the next few days.

In Shah Alam, Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the arrest of elected representatives under the ISA would not solve problems and would only give the country a bad name.

“On behalf of all the elected representatives, I want to voice our protest over the arrests and hope the Federal Government will release her (Kok) soon,” he told a press conference.

Khalid said Kok had never shown any bias towards any race during state-level discussions and was ma­ture in discussing and seeking so­lutions to problems faced by the people regardless of their race or religion.

“We (state government) made all our decisions collectively and Teresa (Kok) was part of the discussions which were frank and fruitful.

“This is the first time that an elected representative at the state level has been detained – it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Khalid said the arrests were a political move to scare the people and prevent Pakatan Rakyat’s efforts to topple the Government.
Malaysia criticized for 'ridiculous' arrests
MySinchew (14/9/08): Malaysia's ruling establishment faced fresh criticism Sunday (14 Sept) after claiming that a journalist was detained under a draconian law for her own safety, with even a pro-government newspaper calling the explanation "most ridiculous."

Tan Hoon Cheng, a reporter of the Chinese-language newspaper Sin Chew, was arrested Friday (12 Sept) under the Internal Security Act, which allows indefinite detention without trial. She was, however, freed Saturday (13 Sept).

An opposition lawmaker and the editor of a pro-opposition news Web site were also detained under the ISA on Friday, but have not been released.

The action has drawn widespread criticism from opposition politicians, the Bar Council, human rights groups and now even by some in the government-controlled media.

Tan's arrest "will go down in Malaysian history as the most controversial, if not most ridiculous," Wong Chun Wai, the editor of the influential Sunday Star, wrote in a signed opinion piece.

The Star is owned by the Malaysian Chinese Association, the second largest party in the ruling coalition after Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's United Malays National Organization party.

Wong's article is in some measure a reflection of the Chinese association's growing unhappiness with UMNO, which controls most power in the country. A wedge was driven between the two last month after Ahmad Ismail, an UMNO politician, described the ethnic Chinese minority as "squatters" and accused them of hungering for power.

Tan was the first journalist to report the comments.

The schism in the ruling coalition comes as it faces the threat of being ousted by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who has capitalized on a deep feeling of discrimination among the minority Chinese and Indians.

On Saturday, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar defended the three detentions by saying they were necessary to prevent racial conflict. He said Tan, an ethnic Chinese, was arrested because police received information that her life had been threatened.

If that was the case, police should have given her protection instead of arresting her, said Malaysian Chinese Association youth wing chief Liow Tiong Lai.

"It is not a clever excuse," he said in a statement.

"To put it bluntly, the arrest was outrageous and went against the grain of natural justice," Wong wrote.

"In the eyes of the world, we are becoming more like a political basket case each day as old politicians attempt to bring back their outdated tricks," he wrote.

Many Malaysians have also been outraged that Ahmad, the Malay politician, faced no legal action for his allegedly seditious statements. He was suspended from the party for three years.

"There is a sense of injustice and hurt among people that the perpetrator has been let off scot-free while the messenger has been penalized," Wong wrote.

He said Ahmad's racist comments were sufficient to get him charged with sedition or arrested under the ISA.

"But the ISA is a draconian and archaic law. It shouldn't be used even against Ahmad, as this deprives him of the right to defend himself in open courts," he wrote.

In a separate editorial, the newspaper joined opposition parties, lawyers and human rights groups in demanding an end to the Internal Security Act.

The law "is a shameful blot on the country's dignity," it said. By VIJAY JOSHI/ AP)
‘Reporter’s life was threatened’
The Star (14/9/08): Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) because police received information that her life had been threatened, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar.

“Police wanted to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

However, the minister vehemently denied that he had anything to do with the arrests and detention of Tan and two others — Malaysia Today news portal editor Raja Petra Kamaruddin and Selangor senior executive councillor Teresa Kok — under the ISA on Friday.

Raja Petra was arrested for being a threat to security, peace and public order while Tan was picked up for her report on former Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail’s racist remarks. Kok was detained over a residents’ petition in Puchong over a mosque.

He said the action was taken by the police themselves based on their assessment of the current situation as they had “strong and good reason” to believe that conflict could happen and public order could be jeopardised.

“The police need not refer to me. It’s their discretion and their assessment of what happened. There has been no malice on their part,” he told a press conference at Bukit Aman.

He said he was informed of the police decision on Friday to detain Tan, Raja Petra and Kok but did not interfere with it.

Tan was released yesterday afternoon.

Asked if he thought the police action was justified, Syed Hamid said: “If I start to interfere with the administration of enforcement then it’s difficult.”

“I am a minister. I am a politician. If I start to interfere, then people will say I have a political motive. It will send the wrong signals. I cannot interfere,” he said.

Syed Hamid said there was concern among the public who felt that the race issue might worsen and some people were even stocking up food.

“People may agree or disagree with the police position but they are in the best position to judge,” he said, denying that the ISA arrests had anything to do with the Sept 16 date set by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to take over the government.

He said Tan was the journalist who first reported on the racist comments by Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail during the Permatang Pauh by-election in which he said the Chinese were squatters in the country and not deserving of equal rights.

This caused a furore among the non-Malays and led to Umno suspending him for three years.

Syed Hamid said the police thought it was best to get first hand information from Tan and thus took her in under the ISA and released her a day later after they got the necessary information.

“I don’t think we are being unfair or mistreated her in any way,” he said when asked if Tan had posed a security threat in any way.

Asked why the police did not just ask Tan to come in for questioning instead of arresting her, Syed Hamid said it was always difficult when police had to deal with reporters.

On Raja Petra, he said the blogger had been given numerous warnings as well as been charged but he continued to create tension.

As for Kok, he said she had questioned the sensitive issues such as the azan (call for prayers for Muslims) and that could cause ill-will and disharmony.

On why Ahmad was not detained for making racist comments, he explained that Umno had already punished him by suspending him for three years and stripping him of his party posts.

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