03 August 2008


  • Yesterday evening, The Abolish ISA Movement held their “Malam Seni - Tanpa Bicara” gathering at the Taman Melawati Food Court with multi-media, poetry, music and theater presentation.
  • The strong and clear message … 48 years of ISA – it’s time to stopped this cruel, merciless and inhumane act.
  • My prayer with the families of those still detain.

What is the ISA? The Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) is a preventive detention law in force in Malaysia. Any person may be detained by the police for up to 60 days without trial for an act which allegedly prejudices the security of the country or any part thereof.
After 60 days, one may be further detained for a period of two years each, to be approved by the Minister of Home Affairs, thus making indefinite detention without trial.
In 1989, the powers of the Minister under the legislation was made immune to judicial review by virtue of amendments to the Act. Now, only the courts are ‘allowed’ to examine and review technical matters pertaining to the ISA arrest.
Since 1960 when the Act was enacted, thousands of people including trade unionists, student leaders, labour activists, political activists, religious groups, academicians, NGO activists have been arrested under the ISA.
Many political activists in the past have been detained for more than a decade. The ISA has been consistently used against people who criticise the government and defend human rights.
Known as the ‘white terror’, it has been the most feared and despised, yet convenient tool for the state to suppress opposition and open debate. The Act is an instrument maintained by the ruling government to control public life and civil society.
The ISA goes against the right of a person to defend himself in an open and fair trial. The person can be incarcerated up to 60 days of interrogation without access to lawyers.

The first 60 days A person detained under the ISA during the first 60 days is held incommunicado, with no access to the outside world.
Furthermore, lawyers and family members are not allowed access to the detainee during this initial period.
Only after a two-year detention order is signed, the detainee is carted off to the Kamunting Detention Centre to serve his or her two-year term, in which family members are allowed to visit.

Torture Torture goes concurrently with ISA detention. Former detainees have testified to being subjected to severe physical and psychological torture.
This may include one or more of the following: physical assault, forced nudity, sleep deprivation, round-the-clock interrogation, death threats, threats of bodily harm to family members, including threats of rape and bodily harm to their children.
Also, detainees are confined in individual and acutely small cells with no light and air, in what is believed to be secret holding cells.
These interrogation techniques and acts of torture are designed to humiliate and frighten detainees into revealing their weaknesses and breaking down their defences.

  • During the first trial of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, police told the courts that the process of ‘extracting confessions’ under duress was called “turning over” and suggested it was a standard practice of the police.

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