Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has bluntly admitted to the security risks involved with repealing the Internal Security Act (ISA), but said his government nevertheless chose to make this sacrifice for the people.
“It wasn’t easy for the government to repeal the ISA… especially for the home minister but he did it nevertheless because that is what the rakyat wants,” Najib said.
The Prime Minister was speaking to a group of senior police officers in KL, some of whom had counselled against scrapping the controversial law in the first place.
He told them that the police must now find the “balance” between firm enforcement of the law and safeguarding human rights as they perform their duties.
Najib mentioned the Home Minister, because the minister was entrusted with protecting the people and the new Security Offences Bill had removed his authority to conduct pre-emptive detentions.
Najib suggested that the Home Minister would struggle to live with his conscience if could no longer protect the people.
As The Choice has already reported, Malaysia’s replacement legislation for the ISA seeks to balance the power to detain terror suspects with safeguards to the right of individuals.
The measures contained in the new bill, such as a maximum 28 days’ detention without charge with a built-in judicial review, are in contrast to the United States where foreign terror suspects can be detained indefinitely with no guarantee that the individual would get his day in court.
On Wednesday, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim admitted that the scrapping of the ISA as worth “celebrating”, before going on to try claiming credit for the government’s decision. He claimed that pressure from Pakatan Rakyat had forced the government to act.
But this is far from the truth.
Last September, Najib had announced a bold political reform agenda, and pledged to repeal the 52-year old ISA. He has simply carried out his promise, despite the security risks.
For the Prime Minister, the people come first, and the ISA was replaced to introduce “new safeguards for civil liberties”.
Najib has now brought Malaysia’s security laws up to date, reflecting the new realities of the 21st century.