Pro-ISA rowdies: To what purpose?


No doubt the rowdies in Penang who disrupted an anti-ISA forum had their moment in the limelight, but the damage done, however, was not to the anti-ISA campaign, but to themselves, observes Ms Batik.

Rro-ISA rowdies barge into an anti-ISA forum at Komtar Walk, Penang - Photo by

Video footage of the recent ‘attempted hijacking’ of an anti-ISA event in Penang showed the mindless manner in which a small pro-ISA group tried to disrupt the event. Press and other reports indicate that the group included representatives of Penang Umno Youth and the Komtar Merchants Association (KMA).

To be pro-ISA is of course, anyone’s right. In fact, if this group really feels strongly about their stand, then they should carry out their own research into preventive detention laws, organise their own forums, raise public awareness, send memos to the federal government urging them not to repeal the ISA and engage in civil society discussion. But then, this would not only take time but also requires a certain amount of hard work and commitment to the cause as well as intelligence in planning and partaking of the discourse.
The video footage of the ‘attempted hijacking’ (below), however, seems to show that this group was not really interested in discussing the pros and cons of the ISA but merely wanted to disrupt the event.

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A representative from the pro-ISA group was given an opportunity to go up on stage to present his viewpoint but after listening to this individual, it would seem that freedom of speech does not guarantee coherent thought or an ability to engage in rational discussion. The views put forward showed a sad lack of understanding of human rights, the history and usage of the ISA and an erroneous thinking that the ISA would protect agama dan bangsa.

While it is a person’s right to disagree with another’s viewpoint, there is no excuse for the uncouth (kurang sopan) behaviour which included, apart from gate crashing, rudeness (you siapa, perempuan pergi ke belakang, sibuk sangat etc), shouting, screeching, screaming, jeering, shoving and pushing, all of which were on full display on Sunday, 21 November. The video footage of this should be used as a teaching aid for Pendidikan Moral lessons in schools as it shows such fine examples of how not to behave in public.

So, what was behind this ruckus? Was it really about being pro-ISA? Or was it about trying to stir up racial sentiment as a strategy to create unrest and unsettle the Pakatan state government? Maybe it was about the buat kacau saja syndrome which has befallen those who are no longer in power?

No doubt these rowdies had their moment on stage and coverage in the press, but the damage done, however, was not to the organisers or to the anti-ISA campaign, but to themselves and to the groups they represent. By their words and actions, they exposed their level of thinking and capacity for crass behavior.

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As for the keepers of public order (or disorder in this case), what can one say? Apparently special branch officers were present but perhaps we should be grateful that there was no police brutality, that the organisers were not hauled away for disrupting the peace or for illegal assembly. Never mind about stopping or controlling the loutish behavior of the pro-ISA faction. Now let’s not get too excited over apparent police inaction as recent reports suggest that the organisers will be questioned with regards to the permit for the event.

And so the struggle continues.

Mansuh! Mansuh!
Mansuhkan ISA

Hidup! Hidup!
Hidup Rakyat

Bebas! Bebas!
Bebaskan Tahanan

Tutup! Tutup!
Tutup Kem Ta

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