Update 10pm 15 September 2011:
The PM has announced the abolishment of ISA and EO. He has repealed the Printing Act as well.
There has been a slew of predictions and guesses on what the prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak will announce tonight, just ahead of Malaysia Day celebrations tomorrow.
One of it is the scrapping of the Internal Security Act (ISA) that had been the protector against any breach in national security since the 1960s.
One of the speculations can be read here. It stated that:
Datuk Seri Najib Razak could dismantle the Internal Security Act (ISA) as early as this week as he seeks to get some new momentum ahead of a general election expected within a year.
Najib came to power in April 2009 with the promise of reviewing the security law but the prime minister, whose reform credentials are seriously in question after flip-flops, is considering going all the way and abolish the law that allows detention without trial.
Given the severity of the issue and also the changing world environment we are living in, the abolishment of such laws will have a direct and quick impact on the citizens.
If the PM is not likely to scrap the ISA laws, then most likely, there will be some major revamps. It is said that the Home Ministry revise provisions in the Act, with amendments revolving around five areas — the length of detention, rights and treatment of detainees and their families, the powers of the home minister, the use of the ISA for political reasons and detention without trial.
This is quite probable.
In the increasingly dangerous world we live in, it is a miracle that Malaysia had avoided massive upheavals and terrorism acts within our soil.
This country has never been a fertile land for terrorism and strife. People are generally living in peace which, naturally, many are taking it for granted.
When there is a vacuum in our national security laws, if the ISA is revamped or scrapped, most people who shun the ISA opined that we have enough laws to deter any aggression towards our nation; laws such as Emergency Ordinance and the various criminal laws that we have.
But none of them deal with pre-emptive strike. Meaning, it triggers when the damage had been done. More often than not, damages done were so irreparable that the loss caused is too unbearable to bear such as loss of lives, property, peace and stability.
Many nations around the world is dealing with this specific issue; the pre-emptive move to mitigate a catastrophic consequences.
Enter The Patriot Act.
The Patriot Act which was introduced in The United States are more comprehensive and more powerful than our own Internal Security Act.
Given the grim and pessimistic world we live in where terrorism lurks from every nook and cranny, the Patriot Act is an astute law that can nip any terrorism from the bud.
And, given the prejudice of some lawmakers and politicians in this country where whatever the first world democracies are doing, we in this developing world must try our best to emulate, then it is imperative that all politicians, be it from Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, see that the ISA must have a better and improved substitute, realistically, the Patriot Act.
Surely we can expect very minimal cries from those who previously had opposed the ISA should Najib wants to create a Patriot Act similar to the United States. Surely Singapore must have done the right thing to have a similar, if not stricter security act of their own. After all, incidentally, those who oppose the ISA here, are great admirers of the US and Singapore administrations.
The USA Patriot Act stands for Uniting (and) Strengthening America (by) Providing Appropriate Tools Required (to) Intercept (and) Obstruct Terrorism Act. It was enacted in end 2001.
It redefines the term “domestic terrorism” to broadly include mass destruction as well as assassination or kidnapping as a terrorist activity.
The definition also encompasses “activities that seek to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion”, and are “dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State” and are intended to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population,” or are undertaken “to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping” while in the jurisdiction of the United States.
All the above activities are termed as ‘TERRORISM’, under the Patriot Act.
Terrorism is also included in the definition of racketeering. Terms relating to cyber-terrorism are also redefined, including the term “protected computer,” “damage,” “conviction,” “person,” and “loss”.
There are several areas which The Patriot Act will cover.
1. Enhancing domestic security against terrorism
2. Surveillance procedures
3. Anti money laundering to prevent terrorism
4. Border security
5. Removing obstacles to investigate terrorism
6. Victims and families of victims of terrorism
7. Terrorism criminal law
8. Improved intelligence
The Act is so powerful that if the Attorney General requests the military to assist him, the military will provide assistance within one official reporting line. Ordinary citiziens’ communications can be tapped, money from bank accounts can be confiscated so on and so forth.
One will not hesitate to guess that The Patriot Act is a very powerful tool indeed. All in the name to fight terrorism activities as enshrined in the definition above.
Although there are many in the US claim that the Act was unconstitutional, its government felt it is still a necessary law to prevent instability in that country. Pre-emptive strike is very critical and could save thousands of lives.
There were hundreds of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay since the introduction of the Act in 2001. Many were held without trial and were subjected to torture and no visitation rights for years. Comparing ISA’s camp in Kamunting and Simpang Renggam to Guantanamo Bay would be like comparing Business class to cargo.
It is hoped the PM will not resort to this kind of brutish treatment although our local admirers of the US regime might vehemently differ.
As a conclusion, the continuity of our nation’s peace and stability is paramount no matter what is at stake and as the US had shown us, even human rights to freedom has to take a backseat when dealing with dangerous elements within the country.
It is hoped that Malaysia will safely chart its course based on the same wisdom and the same experience that had made it relatively one of the most peaceful and successful country ever existed today.
That would be the best gift for Malaysia Day tomorrow.