Thursday 21 July 2011

Government 'ashamed' to use ISA, says Bar Council

The detention of six Parti Sosialis Malaysia leaders under the Emergency Ordinance shows that the government is ashamed of using the draconian Internal Security Act, the Bar Council says.

azlanHowever, by using the EO, another "detention without trial" law, it showed that the government was passing the buck from the ruling BN to the police, Bar Council vice-chairperson Christopher Leong said.

Speaking at a forum on "EO: Another form of ISA political tool of the government" last night, Leong said both legislation were the same in nature, but should the ISA be used on the six, it would certainly look bad on the BN government as it claimed that it was amending the law.

"Hence, if the government uses something that is under amendment, it will receive further criticism. I think by using the EO, the government is seen to pass the buck to the police by saying the detention was done by them, not by the government.

"For the ISA, the order will come from the government, particularly the (home) minister, to detain a person. Under the EO, the order will come from the police. This is what I feel and think as to why the EO is being used to detain them," he said.

Leong said the use of the EO to detain politicians was something new, and that its use was mainly against alleged criminals and would see the detainees being held in Simpang Renggam, Johor, or elsewhere.

The six from PSM who have been detained since June 24 are Sungai Siput MP Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, A Letchumanan, M Sukumaran, Sarasvathy Muthu, Choo Chon Kai and Sarat Babu.

More than 200 people of various races attended the forum last night to show support for the detainees. Earlier, they held a candle light vigil under the close supervision of about 50 policemen.

3,701 held under EO since 2000

According to another panelist, Edmund Bon, who is also a lawyer for the PSM6, a total of 3,701 people have been detained under the EO between 2000 and 2009 and this was according to international statistics.

NONE"We may never know the actual number, but there are many held under the EO and some of them are minors. It is worrying that such a legislation is still in existence," Bon (left) said.

He pointed out that to apply for remand by police, one needs the signature of an inspector but to apply the EO, a person with the rank of an assistant superintendent can sign the order.

Hence, he said, there was no check-and-balance to ensure transparency in the issuance of the order.

"For this reason, people should oppose the use of such a legislation to detain a person without trial," said Bon, who is also a campaigner with the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights.

He also said that recently, three youths arrested and held under the EO for motorcycle theft were denied their right to meet their counsel and even their parents.
Lawyers not allowed to do their job effectively
Similarly with the PSM6, he said, their lawyers were initially denied access to meet them and even when allowed, they were given only 15 minutes.

"There were six burly officers in the room and the session was video taped. This prevented us from doing our job effectively. When Dr Jeyakumar wanted to sign his papers, there were restrictions," he said.

Bon said although the hearing for the habeas corpus application would be heard tomorrow (Friday), there were indications that the police would apply for a postponement.

NONEHowever, Bon, who is part of the 20-member legal team, said they would oppose any postponement as EO cases were time sensitive and any delay would result in a two-year detention order to be issued, just as it was done under the ISA.

He said there was no ground for the detention, as initially the police and home minister claimed the PSM6 were being held for waging war against the King and reviving communism, but then, from the 37 police affidavits, there was not a shred of mention of communism.

The only words, he said were their suspected "key role in Bersih".

The lawyer said the team would today file an affidavit from a Bersih 2.0 steering committee member denying any role of the PSM6 in the coalition.

"There is no shred of evidence to detain the six any further," Bon reiterated.

Arutchelvam: Makes PSM more relevant

PSM secretary-general S Arutchelvam, who was the third panelist, said the detention of the six had brought more spotlight on PSM's struggles and "we have to thank the government and police for this", he joked.

NONEOn a serious note, Arutchelvam (right) said the arrests showed the "cleverness" of the police, as they could never decide on a proper charge - whether waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, to reviving communism or, as Bon had said, to finally "playing a key role in Bersih".

"On the weekend of June 24, PSM was having its Udahlah, Berubah (Enough, Change) campaign to highlight the party's struggle and call on the people to change the BN government. There were some of us wearing Chin Peng and Rashid Maidin (former Communist Party Malaysia leaders) T-shirts and distributing leaflets.

"We were in two convoys, with Dr Jeyakumar heading from the north to Sungai Siput and I was heading from Johor Baru to Kota Damansara. Both convoys were stopped and police informed me that the most offending material they found was the Bersih 2.0 eight demands for electoral reform," he said, adding the Bersih leaflets were not yellow but were photostat copies.

Arutchelvam pointed out that while the other EO detainees had been sent to Simpang Renggam, the six PSM leaders were still being held at Bukit Aman.

He called on the people to give their continued support for the release of the PSM6.

"On Friday (tomorrow) there will be the habeas corpus application and we call for many to turn up for support," he said.

NONELeong (left) agreed that there must be continued pressure to secure the release of the six PSM leaders.

He said under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, the EO could only be repealed by Parliament.

"Unfortunately, the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara are mainly occupied by the BN. So unless the MPs move for it to be removed, it cannot be removed."

"This is a draconian law that should have been lifted. There are four emergencies declared by the country, the first being the Konfrontasi period of 1963, the second following the Sarawak crisis in 1967, the third during the racial riots of May 13, 1969 and fourth the Kelantan MB crisis in 1977," he said.

Leong pointed out that without lifting the declarations of emergency, new laws could be passed without going through the legislature and that this was not right in democratic Malaysia.

No comments:

Post a Comment