Thursday 15 September 2011

Najib announces repeal of ISA, three emergency declarations

Prime Minister Najib Razak will abolish the Internal Security Act and amend a number of laws which have long been criticised as overt attempts to stifle democracy.

In a special televised address today in conjunction with the eve of Malaysia day, Najib announced the following:
  • Abolishment of Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, which allows detention without trial.
  • Three Emergency declarations to be lifted.
  • Amendments to freedom of assembly laws, which will recognise Article 10 of the Federal Constitution but will be "strongly" against street demonstration.
  • Annual renewal of printing permits for newspapers system will be replaced with a one-off licence, which can be withdrawn.
  • Repeal of Restricted Residence Act 1933 and Banishment Act 1959
"As I had promised in my maiden speech when I first took over the post of prime minister on April 3, 2009, the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) would be studied comprehensively. In relation to that, I am glad to announce on this historical night, that the ISA will be abolished," said Najib.

najib special address malaysia day 150911"To prevent subversive acts, planned terrorism and criminal acts to preserve public order and safety, two new suitable laws will be formulated based on the spirit and under the umbrella of Article 149 of the federal constitution.

"In principle, the Acts will be aimed at preserving peace, harmony of the people and the country."

The ISA, which is a preventive detention law, was enacted soon after Malaya obtained independence.

While initially the draconian law was used against the communists, it was often abused by the government to muzzle political dissidents.

Over the years, many key politicians were nabbed under the law which empowered the home minister to detain them for up to two years, which can be extended thereafter indefinitely.

"Realising the reality that Malaysia has changed, feeling the pulse, apprehension and aspirations of the rakyat who want a Malaysia that has a more open and dynamic democracy, where opinions, ideas and concerns are given more attention so that we can stand on par with other democratic systems in the world based on the universal philosophy of from the people, by the people, for the people, the government, under Section 3 Article 150 of the federal constitution, will table to both parliamentary councils a motion so that all three proclamations of emergency are lifted," said Najib.

With the lifting of the Emergency declarations, it means that the ISA-type Emergency Ordinance (EO) will also lapse. 

Apart from the six PSM leader who were detained for one month in July, there are currently about 6,000 held in detention under EO.

Publishing permits for newspapers will remain but they will not be required to renew it every year. 

"A comprehensive review (of laws no longer relevant) will involve the Restricted Residence Act 1933 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 where the annual licences will be abolished and replaced with licences which would be issued until it is cancelled," said Najib.

"The government will also review Section 27 of the Police Act 1967 to take into account of Article 10 of the federal constitution on the freedom of assembly with the principle that it would be against street demonstrations. 

"However, the permission to assembly would be given through methodologies which will be decided later but it would consider international norms."

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