Are ISA detentions aimed at creating climate of fear?

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Aliran condemns the further arrests under the obnoxious ISA following the earlier arrest of Raja Petra Kamarudin and the issuance of show cause letters to three newspapers.

What is puzzling is that Tan Hoon Cheng, the reporter from Sin Chew Daily, was detained for reporting the truth. She had reported the offensive racial remarks of Datuk Ahmad Ismail during the the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign on 23 August.


What is even more troubling is the fact that Member of Parliament and Selangor State Exco Member Teresa Kok was detained based on a lie. She was accused by a Bahasa Malaysia daily, Utusan Malaysia, of having told mosque officials in Kota Damansara, Sri Serdang and Puchong Jaya to tone down the call to prayer. Teresa has denied the allegation but her denial was not carried by the daily.

In both these cases, those responsible for inciting ill feelings and animosity among the various communities were not taken to task immediately in order to safeguard our unity and preserve our national harmony. Was this lack of action deliberate to create an atmosphere of uncertainty in order to use the ISA? It is not unnatural for many Malaysians to believe that these ISA arrests are a diversion from the much anticipated takeover of the federal government by the Pakatan Rakyat.

Clearly, Raja Petra’s detention was mainly because he had exposed many acts of corruption and abuse of power that posed a threat to the power base of certain politicians. His writings and remarks did not unleash uncontrollable reactions among Malaysians. Indeed, there are many who believe that he is a patriot who has unflinchingly and courageously answered the call of duty to speak the truth.

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Obviously, all three of them – as well as others languishing in our detention centres under the ISA – do not deserve to be treated in this high-handed manner.

Aliran calls upon the Barisan government to heed the many calls from caring Malaysians and free them immediately. Free the detainees and free this country from this unjust and undemocratic ISA.

Aliran executive committee
13 September 2008

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