The repeal of ISA is seen as aPR coup by BN-but the sincerity behind the move may restrict how far it can go. If the Najib move to repeal ISA was sincere then he should have express regret over the many mistreatment of the detainees all over the years to show that the repeal was to address these years of misdeeds and mistreatment to Malaysian citizens. He should even underline this by making compensation to the tens of thousands of citizens who were detained and never charged for any crimes. If he did that in conjunction with his repeal of ISA he would have won the praise of the citizens especially those detainees and families who suffered under the ISA. We all know that he never intended it that way. His objective seems clearly to tap into a PR exercise that will pull the rug from under the Opposition’s feet. To some extent he is successful as the Opposition up to this point seems to be incapable of responding effectively-only to pile up skepticism.
Think of some creative ways to put Najib to test: organise detainees to meet Najib to ask him to make amend to the ISA treatment that the detainees received before. Challenge him to prosecute those officers who tortured the detainees -open teh books on their records! Get some former officers to testify on their previous misdeeds. Just compare the turnaround from dictatorships in South America-there were truth Commissions which dug out all the inconvenient truth of the past. Those who took opportunities to torture their fellow citizens had been drag out from their offices and exposed for all to see! The country would experience a renewal of spirit after those who were mistreated were given a affirmation of their citizenship rights that they exercise before!
To avoid the ISA to be re-surrected in another name eg in the form of some `Patriot act’ as named in the US, there should be a strong push to publicise the injustice that was done in the name f preventive law. Eg the police had been taking action eg to stop Opposition assembly by simply citing `security reasons’-but never bother to provide any prove of their `security reasons’. Many people suspect this is just another cover for political interference from the ruling politicians. Some expose of such political misconducts should be made and prosecuted so that there is a stand and resolution to stop ruling politicians from interfering in public service to serve their own personal/party interests!
When the PM said that nobody should be arrested for their political ideology-did he mean to stop such practice that had been going on till now? Can he give some examples of such political persecutions before that he want to draw a line to dissociate himself from? In the past the ruling politicians always deny there are political detainees in the country by tagging all those detained as violence criminals or terrorists. Notice how the country’s politicians were quick to equate their detentions without trials to the actions in the West that go after real terrorists!
So if Najib repeal ISA not because it is wrong but because he need a PR boost he should be challenged to show his real motivation to repeal the ISA. It may seems like academic-but motivation will limit how far this move will go. If the repeal of ISA only go as far as changing its name to another, then there is nothing to celebrate. The country had not moved a bit forward. If the repeal was said to serve the country’s survival, our survival is still at stake.
If there are something else that motivate the PM he should come out with it with concrete action-and speed. He reportedly refused to commit to table the motion to repeal the ISA at the coming October Parliament seating, an early turn back from his commitment on Malaysia Day that he will table the motion at the next Parliament seating. It shows that the doubters from his supporters camp is making some inroads to hold him back from going farther with the repeal action. Similar to the Parliament Select Committee on electoral reforms. The action sounded more positive at the beginning-but start to falter in no time. Now the PSC is no longer able to guarantee speedy implementation ahead of the coming 13th GE-so its relevance had suffered a head-long tumble even before it starts to open shop!
The DPM Muhyidin had jumped on the repeal ISA bandwagon-something which can be positive if he throw his weight behind a more thoroughgoing repeal-in letters and in spirit. However he may, most likely, only attend to its repeal with an eye to limits its impact. His past records on human rights does not make him a good model for liberalism.
If Najib cannot compensate the past detainees and draw a line with past abuses of ISA then his PR opportunism will end pretty soon-sooner than when he can call a general elections!
For the beginning how about Najib take these actions:
1. release all ISA detainees still held in Kemunting-or charge them in court if there is evidence
2. release all those Emergency Ordinance detainee in Simpang Renggam-or charge them in court;
3. drop charges on all those peacefulprotestors against ISA eg those who were charged on spurious charges by holding candle lights vigils in Penang, KL and other cities;
4.start a committee to receive complaint on ISA abuses in detention; make allocations to compensate those who were abused and suffer loses because they were stopped from their normal profession;
5. Make a unqualified apology on behalf of the BN government to all those who were abused in ISA detention!