Defer the seven anti-terrorism bills for debate in next Parliamentary meeting starting on May 18 while establish Select Committee to study and make recommendations
Today’s arrest of two more editors, Edge publisher Ho Kay Tat and The Malaysian Insider (TMI) chief executive Jahabar Sadiq, in addition to the arrest of three senior TMI editors, Lionel Morais, Amin Shah Iskandar and Zulkifli Sulong yesterday are the latest in the police crackdown in the past week and a campaign to impose the reign of white terror in the country.
These arrests raise one disturbing question – whether the police and the government-of-the-day can be trusted with untrammelled powers, like the one they are asking under the anti-terrorism laws.
This question could not have come at a more appropriate time as Parliament was presented with seven anti-terrorism bills, which would empower the Executive with the untrammelled power of indefinite detention without trial that cannot be challenged in court.
The Internal Security Act was the most infamous example where countless numbers of ISA detainees were incarcerated for no crime except for holding different political views from those in power – the most iniquitous recent example being the mass ISA arrests under Operation Lalang which not only victimised Opposition MPs and leaders, but also the civil society and the media.
In fact, with the over 100 police arrests in the past week, the question can be legitimately asked whether the country is seeing a replay of Ops Lalang dragnet!
I was an ISA victim of the Ops Lalang dragnet in 1987.
I remember that when I was detained for a second time under the ISA and was sent to Kamunting Detention Centre in 1987 with other Operation Lalang detainees, we found to our horror long-serving ISA detainees who had been forgotten by the authorities – who had served for more than 10 years, one over 13 years and another 16 years.
It was as a result of our highlighting such gross injustices and violations to human rights in Parliament and outside that these long-serving ISA detainees were released shortly after.
This is one shocking outcome of unchecked and unchallengeable indefinite detentions without trial.
To prevent any recurrence of such injustices and human rights violations, I call on the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi to defer the seven anti-terrorism bills for debate in next Parliamentary meeting starting on May 18 and meanwhile, set up a bipartisan Select Committee to study and make recommendations on the anti-terrorism bills to Parliament before May 18.
Meanwhile, the Home Minister and the Inspector-General of Police should end the reign of “white terror”, immediately releasing the five editors from TMI as there is reason why police investigations against them cannot be carried out without having to flex police muscles to put them under lock-and-key, just as the country was witness to the gross abuse of police power when Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen were humiliated, chained or handcuffed and forced to be incarcerated in police lock-ups when efficient police work would have obviated such harsh police treatment.